Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa began his role as chairman of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week by saying on FOX Sunday that the Republican platform is so backward, "it looks like the platform of 1812." He said this is particularly true of the GOP's platform on health care, abortion and immigration.
“One of the reasons why I think that we will win is they’ve just gone too far to the right," he said at the DNC kickoff Politico breakfast. In contrast, he said he and President Obama are more centrist. “I’m a Democrat with a small ‘d.’ I believe very strongly in what I call the radical center,” said Villaraigosa. “I believe that the president is moving down that path.”
Villaraigosa continued that while Republicans are shutting the door on anyone not conservative enough, Democrats' doors are wide open. Speaking of this week's three-day convention in Charlotte, N.C., the chairman said it will be more diverse, positive and future-focused. "Ours is going to be more accessible ... open to a much broader cross section of Americans," he told the San Francisco Chronicle.
It's not that Republicans aren't trying to be inclusive, said Villaraigosa. It's just that their efforts are disingenuous. The GOP "can't just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname" and expect Latinos to vote Republican, he said last week. While the GOP platform calls for the self-deportation of 11 million people, Villaraigosa and Obama have advocated for immigrants' rights.
And if anyone has the clout to call out insincere "brown faces," it's Villaraigosa. The man is "the principal speaker as far as Latinos are concerned," Raphael Sonenshein, director of Cal State LA's Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs, told the Pasadena Star News. And that role will pay off for the President in places where the Latino vote is crucial, like the Southwest and Florida, Sonenshein said.
As Villaraigosa continues to gain national notoriety, his reputation in Los Angeles remains damaged, partly because he's accused of neglecting the broke city while he auditions for a national position. Speculation about his future after he terms out as mayor in June ranges from Obama appointment (Secretary of Transportation?) to California governor to running for president in 2016.
The Mayor has dismissed these speculations, which is to be expected at this point whether he plans on running or not. Instead, he said he'd like to spend time at a think tank or a university. That way, he told the Chronicle, he can focus on the issues he deeply cares about, such as marriage equality and tax reform, without the restraint of party politics.
Check back for coverage of Villaraigosa's speech Thursday night at the DNC.