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May 282013

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Republican National Committee is tapping veteran GOP strategist Jennifer Sevilla Korn to lead the party’s effort to become competitive again with Latino voters, it announced Tuesday.

Korn will hold the titles Deputy Political Director and National Field Director for Hispanic Initiatives. Her selection comes as the GOP is looking for ways to rebuild its credibility with Latino voters after taking a shellacking in the 2012 presidential election, when President Obama won over seven in ten Latino votes.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement that Korn “will play a key role in directing our Hispanic engagement efforts to ensure that Republicans are building new relationships in the Hispanic community.”

The GOP’s failure to attract more non-white voters has become more magnified as the nation’s electorate grows more racially and ethnically diverse. The RNC commissioned a 97-page post-election autopsy report this year, which acknowledged that the party has alienated some of the fastest-growing voter groups in the country: African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. The party has launched a project to spend $10 million on outreach to these voters.

That report called on the party to change its perception among Latino voters, in part by changing its hardline approach to immigration policy.

“We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform,” says the report. “If we do not, our party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.”

Korn served as Hispanic vote director on George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, the last Republican presidential bid that attracted enough Latino voters, 40 percent, to win an election.

She also worked in the Bush White House as Director of Hispanic and Women’s Affairs. During the 2012 election, Korn worked as Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network, an offshoot of the center-right political group American Action Network.

“We have been successful in the past, and I know we can be successful in the future,” Korn said in a statement. “I intend to work arduously to reach new heights in growing the Republican Party.”

The RNC’s last Hispanic outreach director, Bettina Inclán, now works at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

May 152013

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — This week’s Republican House meeting was a little more exciting than weeks past, and it wasn’t just because of what was on the agenda.

At the request of the GOP, Google representatives held Google Glass demonstrations at the beginning and the end of the meeting, allowing Congressional members to try on the sought-after technology. A Google spokesperson told ABC News that the company offered the same demonstration sessions to Democrats, but have yet to schedule any official group presentations.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was among those who tried on a pair of the new glasses. In an email, a representative for Bachmann told ABC News that the congresswoman enjoyed trying on Google Glass because she “likes being ahead of the curve when it comes to innovative technology” and believes “it is a testament to just how much the industry has evolved.”

Bachmann’s first query when trying on the glasses? The Drudge Report.

Earlier this year, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich won a Twitter contest to be one of the first to try out the technology as a Google Glass explorer. His winning Tweet mentioned plans of zoo and museum visits.

ABC News has been unable to confirm whether Gingrich has received his pair of Google Glass, but a Google representative confirmed that contest winners were notified of how they could claim their prizes over the span of the past few weeks.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Apr 182013

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of Labor nominee Thomas Perez faced two hours of intense scrutiny at his nomination hearing Thursday morning as he sought to alleviate Republican concerns over his role in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

At issue is a lengthy report released earlier this week in which GOP leaders accuse Perez of attempting to influence the city of St. Paul, Minn., to withdraw a housing discrimination case before it could be brought before the Supreme Court. In exchange, the Department of Justice agreed not to intervene in two whistleblower cases against St. Paul that could have won up to $200 million for taxpayers.

Sen. Lamar Alexander engaged Perez in a heated line of questioning, accusing Perez of doing “an extraordinary amount of wheeling and dealing.”

“You have a duty to protect the money, a duty to protect the whistle-blower, and at the same time, it seems to me that you’re manipulating the legal process to try to get the result you want from the Supreme Court in a way that’s inappropriate,” Alexander, R-Tenn., said.

Perez defended his actions, saying that the Department of Justice chooses not to stay out of “a lot of different things.”

“It was in the interest of justice and it was entirely appropriate to do so in the opinion of professional responsibility people and others,” he told the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “I believe the resolution reached in this case was in fact in the interest of justice.”

Democratic senators had kind words for Perez. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., introduced him as “one of Maryland’s favorite sons,” saying “we believe he is the right man for the job.”

Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., joined in the praise, adding “you have a very amazing, impressive, wide range of experience that you are bringing from a number of different agencies…You’re something of a turn-around expert for public sector agencies, so thank you for that.”

When asked what his very top priority would be should he be confirmed as Secretary of Labor, Perez had one answer: “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

He expanded on his goals and priorities, including reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act, maintaining pension security, and spending his first 100 days as secretary on a listening tour of America, reaching out to small businesses and workers alike.

“The president has asked all of us to consider three questions in the decisions we make,” Perez said. “How do we make America a magnet for jobs? How do we equip our people with the skills they need to succeed in those jobs, and how do we ensure that an honest day’s work leads to a decent living?”

Perez concluded, “These questions are at the core of the mission of the Department of Labor, and if confirmed you have my word that I will keep them there.”

The committee is expected to vote on Perez’s nomination on Thursday, April 25.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 232013

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that the Republican Party is struggling with an identity crisis, with “no leadership” and “the tail wagging the dog.”

“There is no leadership,” he told donors for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, according to the pool report. “There is nobody you can sit across the table from and shake hands, make a deal with.”

“The problem is we have the tail wagging the dog in the Republican Party,” he added.

Biden led negotiations with Republican leaders in Congress in what resulted in the fiscal cliff deal earlier this year. While he did not cite the specific negotiations, the vice president said that in at least five instances, House Republicans took back an offer they had agreed to, calling Biden to say, “What we agreed to Joe, we can’t do.”

“The reason this is so dysfunctional now — with whom do you make a deal? With whom do you speak to get something done?” he said.

But Biden had kind words for one Republican senator, Rand Paul, calling him “a fine man, he’s a decent man.” When talking about Rep. Paul Ryan, his former opponent in 2012, the vice president got laughs from the crowd, saying “The Ryan budget is absolutely — the Ryan budget.”

The vice president thanked the crowd of 250 people at the DCCC conference for supporting him and other Democratic candidates in recent years.

“When I first ran, you just hoped that I’d turn out the right way,” he joked, adding that “some of you may still not be [convinced].”

And the vice president made light of his now infamous moment where a hot mic caught him calling President Obama’s healthcare plan a “big f***ing deal.”

“Thank God my mom’s not alive – can’t trust those microphones,” he joked.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 172013

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — As the Republican Party tries to bounce back from its loss in November’s presidential election, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus outlined some of the tactical changes the Party must  make, including expanding outreach to minority voters and moving the Party’s convention to an earlier date, during an appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation Sunday.

“I’m calling for a convention in June or July,” Priebus said, arguing that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was a “sitting duck” in the months leading up to the Republican National Convention in August.  “We’re going to set up a commission that’s going to make that decision. I’m going to be a part of that. I’m going to chair that commission, but no more August conventions.”

While Democrats benefited from well invested and expansive political operations in states across the country in 2012, Priebus acknowledged the Republicans faced a deficit in that area and said the GOP would combat shortfall by launching a ten million dollar initiative dedicated to outreach in minority communities.

“The Obama campaign lived in these communities for years.  Their relationships were deep.  They were authentic,” Priebus said.  “We’re going to be announcing a $10 million initiative just this year which will include hundreds of people, paid, across the country, from coast to coast, in Hispanic, African American, Asian communities, talking about our party, talking about our brand, talking about what we believe in, going to community events, going to swearing-in ceremonies being a part of the community on an ongoing basis paid for by the Republican National Committee, to make the case for our party and our candidates.”

Priebus also said he hopes to reduce the number of primary debates to a more reasonable number like “7 or 8” per election cycle.

Priebus will outline his modernization plan for the Republican Party, called the Growth and Opportunity Project, in a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Monday.  Last week, the RNC announced it would restructure its digital strategy to compete with the savvy and successful technology campaign waged by Democrats in recent years.

But as the Republican Party looks to heal the wounds caused by the 2012 election, two notable Republicans hammered each other for their respective roles in the Republican Party over the weekend.

On Saturday, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made a thinly veiled jab at Republican strategist Karl Rove, who many on the right are vilifying for his poor track record in the 2012 election and for establishing the Conservative Victory Project, which aims to take sides in Republican primary contests to weed out potential “problem” candidates.

“If these experts who keep losing elections and keep getting rehired and getting millions — if they feel that strong about who gets to run in this party, then they should buck-up or stay in the truck,” Palin said at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, a reference to Rove. “Buck up or run. The Architect can head on back to the great Lone Star State and put their name on some ballot –- though for their sakes, I hope they give themselves a discount on their consulting services.”

But Rove fired back Sunday, defending himself and dinging Palin for her decision not to complete her term as governor of Alaska.

“I’m a volunteer. I don’t take a dime from my work with American Crossroads. I even pay my own travel expenses, out of my own pocket. I thought Sarah Palin was about encouraging volunteer, grassroots activity. I’m a volunteer,” Rove said on Fox News Sunday.  “I appreciate her encouragement that I ought to go home to Texas and run for office. I would be enthused if I ran for office to have her support. I will say this, though, I don’t think I’m a particularly good candidate. Sort of a balding, fat guy. And second of all, I’d say if I did run for office and win, I would serve out my term. I wouldn’t leave office midterm.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio