The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

March 29, 2013

Young's slur highlights GOP's image problem

By Aaron Blake and Juliet Eilperin

The Washington Post

For Republicans seeking to cast off the image of the party as intolerant of opposing views and lifestyles, it's been one step forward and two steps back of late.

Less than two weeks after the Republican National Committee unveiled its 2012 election autopsy, and put an emphasis on broadening the party's tent, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, used an ethnic slur for Latinos in a radio interview Thursday. Young's comments served as the latest wake-up call for Republicans in their nascent effort to woo a more diverse cross-section of America.

The message: Whatever effort they make toward modernizing their brand, there will always be a few Archie Bunkers out there — people, like the lead character in the 70′s sitcom "All in the Family," who are unconcerned with or unwilling to moderate their tone. And these days more than in the past, their offhand remarks can derail the most carefully orchestrated PR campaign.

Young, 79, set off a fresh round of recriminations and hand-wringing among Republican leaders while talking about the people his father employed on his California ranch years ago.

"We used to hire 50 or 60 wetbacks and — to pick tomatoes," Young said in the interview with KRBD. "You know, it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It's all done by machine."

Even as several senior Republicans decried the remarks and called for a more thorough apology, some GOP advisers said the incident would reinforce how voters view their party.

GOP consultant John Weaver said the comment "hurts us," even though he described Young as "a dinosaur on the bridge of political insanity and irrelevance."

"Republicans like him will soon be extinct, and that's a good thing for the GOP," said Weaver, who has worked for moderate Republicans in recent years. "But in the meantime, when they make these remarks, it makes it harder for those of us who are trying to grow the base of our party."

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