Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham bemoaned the Republican Party’s failure to reach minority groups at the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday.
“The demographics are real, and most of the wounds are self-inflicted,” Graham said.
McCain warned that attracting new voters to the Republican Party was not a one-issue proposition, citing attempts to draw in Hispanics with by focusing on immigration reform.
“Don’t think that’s the panacea, and that every Hispanic is going to switch with immigration reform,” McCain said. “We still have a lot of work to do.
Mitt Romney lost Hispanic voters by over 40 points, African-American voters by 90 points, and women by 11 points in last week’s election. Graham did not believe the loss was an endorsement of Obama’s policies.
“This is the first election where demographics were more important than performance,” Graham said.
However, both said the party’s conservatism would be a strong selling point and that the problem was more messaging than ideology.
“Most Hispanics are pro-life and African-Americans support traditional marriage by the largest margin of any group,” McCain said.
The two also spoke about the need for bipartisanship in solving the nation’s financial problems.
“How do you get 16 trillion in debt? Both parties working together for a long time,” Graham said. “How do you get out? Both parties working together for a long time.”
The Washington Ideas Forum goes through Thursday and will feature appearances by Sen. Marco Rubio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and billionaire Bill Gates, among others.