Republicans eager to attract black and Latino voters believe they have hit on an ideal magnet: school choice.
Led by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, with high-profile contributions from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the GOP is pushing an election-year initiative to talk up school choice at every turn.
Calling for more charter schools, vouchers and tax credits to help parents pay private school tuition fits with the party’s mantra that the government works best when it gets out of the way and lets the free market flourish. But top strategists say it’s more than that: Talking about helping poor minority children softens the GOP’s image and lets candidates offer a positive vision instead of forever going on the attack. And unlike immigration reform, school choice is politically safe; there’s no chance of blowback from the tea party.
Plus, the photo ops are great. As the conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks put it in a strategic planning document: “Focus on kids and the future = excellent media opportunity.”