It has gone by quickly, but it's now been almost a year since Democrats regained power in the 2006 midterm elections. I thought it couldn't be worse for Republicans back then, but recently I find myself asking: Who will save the Republican Party from itself?

As I wrote earlier this week, I agree with Newt Gingrich, who is counseling bold ideas and a break with President Bush to anyone hoping to win the White House in 2008. Gingrich predicts Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will be the nominee and that up against her anyone running conventional campaigns for president — as all the GOP candidates are — will lose.

Yesterday I was impressed to read in that, in one day, Gingrich has been joined by Michael Gerson, Ken Mehlman and Jack Kemp in admonishing the party's presidential candidates for skipping forums with black and Hispanic voters like the one planned at Morgan State University next week and the Univision debate that has now been postponed.

"We sound like we don't want immigration; we sound like we don't want black people to vote for us," Kemp said. "What are we going to do — meet in a country club in the suburbs one day? If we're going to be competitive with people of color, we've got to ask them for their vote."

Gerson, the former speechwriter and darling of the Bush administration, agrees with his former boss on immigration but takes on Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani for traversing the political spectrum on the issue and then accusing each other of the same. He sees stark electoral implications for what those two candidates now see as the politically popular position.

"I have never seen an issue where the short-term interests of Republican presidential candidates in the primaries were more starkly at odds with the long-term interests of the party itself," Gerson wrote in The Washington Post, noting swing states populated by Hispanics that Bush won in 2004. "A substantial shift of Hispanic voters toward the Democrats in these states could make the national political map unwinnable for Republicans."

These kind of remarks are rarely given on the record and contain dire warnings. Who is listening?


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