Thursday afternoon, CPAC hosted a panel on GOP outreach into minority communities. The panel included Virginia Senate candidate Ed Gillespie and a panel of Republican political strategists: Jason Roe, Elroy Sailor, and Robert Woodson. The panel delivered a remarkably pointed review of GOP voter outreach (largely its failures) and explained, in very straightforward terms, how the party can (and must) do better. However, the most revealing part of the experience was not what happened on stage, but what happened off stage, and reflects the national electoral struggles Republicans are facing.
Some of the marquee speakers at CPAC did tout policy, such as bolstering charter schools, that could garner support from some nonwhite voters. But compared with last year's CPAC, where a major focus was wooing Latino voters, delving into the main themes of the postelection GOP autopsy report seems to have lost steam. No mention of immigration reform came from major speakers Thursday, with just one panel dedicated to the topic of citizenship. The first speaker to really talk about immigration was Donald Trump. "We're either a country or we're not," he said, when advocating for a strong border. The audience burst into applause.