Does diversity from the outside in automatically bring that difference? While the 2016 GOP hopefuls on the debate stage are as diverse as America, the views don’t veer too far from the party’s 2008 and 2012 message, and certainly have taken a step back from the goals in the party’s post-election postmortem.
Though Cruz and Rubio are both children of Cuban refugees, they fell into the conservative camp on immigration in the last GOP debate, with Cruz attacking Rubio as not tough enough. Rubio’s campaign, however, has examined past actions from Cruz to say he isn’t as ideologically pure as he claims. Trump’s message on immigration and his pledge to build a wall on the country’s southern border and ban Muslim refugees now form the party’s calling card.
While Obama, the country’s first African-American president, is a Democrat, the only black candidate this year, Dr. Ben Carson, takes his place on the Republican stage, though he is becoming less of a factor. He has long been admired for his medical accomplishments despite a challenging childhood, especially by many African-Americans who knew of him before others joined the fan club (Cuba Gooding Jr. played him in the movie “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story”). But when he was asked about the issue of policing in minority communities at a criminal justice forum at a historically black university in South Carolina last month, he characterized any problems between law enforcement and communities they serve as isolated events, to some audience pushback.
Carson, the lone Republican at the forum, did attend along with Democrats Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley to talk about issues that aren’t high on the GOP agenda, despite videos that have many across the country questioning police tactics and asking for accountability.