Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.
By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor
(CNN) - Now that delegates have converged on Tampa, Florida, for the Republican National Convention, one has to wonder whether there is enough room in the arena for all the conflicting and contradictory elements of the modern Republican Party.
There is the camp that claims it wants to be more inclusive, broader in its appeal and more welcoming to women, gays and minorities. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush recently warned that, because of changing demographics, the GOP has to "reach out to a much broader audience than we do today."
But then there is the camp that ensured that the Republican platform included language rejecting not just same-sex marriage but also the watered-down alternative that many elected officials find more palatable: civil unions.
The GOP platform committee also defeated a proposed amendment that said all Americans should be treated "equally under the law" as long as they're not hurting anyone else.
Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.
By William Bennett, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - When the Republican National Convention kicks off this week in Tampa, Florida, the nation will notice one thing before anything else: This is not your father's or grandfather's Republican Party. Rather, it's a party with leaders as diverse as the country it intends to represent.
With the nation's changing demographics, Republicans can no longer rely on the South and Midwest to carry them to victory in 2012. Instead, they must broaden their base into traditionally purple and blue states. It's an uphill battle: President Obama leads by a sizeable margin with women and by wide margins with Latino and black voters. But it's not insurmountable. Romney already leads with men by roughly the same number President Obama leads with women. Nor is it unprecedented. Republicans won a landslide victory in the 2010 fall midterm elections. Now they must devise a strategy to repeat that.
Republicans, in short, must repeat what they did in their landslide victory in the 2010 fall midterm elections.
By Vivian Kuo, CNN
(CNN) - The 30-mile stretch between Biloxi and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, is still dotted with battle wounds from Hurricane Katrina seven years later.
Concrete slabs and steps that lead to nothing but trash and overgrown weeds are all that is left of historic brick homes.
But amid the slabs are majestic homes with grand, sweeping porches and perfectly manicured lawns.
The owners of these homes are as tough and resilient as only survivors of one of the deadliest storms in history could be.
Lifelong Bay St. Louis resident Corky Hadden lives on the spot of his childhood home, set off the water where the bay feeds into the Gulf of Mexico.
While he and his family evacuated to safety inland, Katrina's ravaging storm surge swept the house right off its stilts, leaving only the foundation intact.
"We had some old columns that the old house stood on, and those columns were picked clean, there was nothing left on them," he said.
Determined, Hadden rebuilt where his boyhood home once stood, both stronger and higher.
"I've got poured concrete pillars filled with steel, 10 times more steel than before," he said. "We're now 24 feet above sea level, 11 feet from the ground."
Isaac could bring in a 12-foot storm surge, which would mean Hadden's first floor could take on some water.
"We don't have anything important below that 24-foot elevation," he said.
Editor's note: Ali Noorani is the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, an organization based in Washington that advocates for the value of immigrants. Follow him on Twitter.
By Ali Noorani, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Dear Barack Obama and Mitt Romney,
As much as America is looking forward to 10 more weeks of soothing campaign rhetoric (fingernails on the blackboard of America's psyche), I write to urge you to offer the nation a compelling vision for a common-sense immigration process. Your respective parties' conventions would be a great place to start.
First off, you should know that poll after poll shows a broad spectrum of Americans want a rational immigration process. In fact, a recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that immigration was one of only a few public policy issues where, as the Post put it, "rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats are less divided."
A creative approach to immigration may not play to your parties' fringes, but a clear majority of Americans want a pragmatic federal immigration policy.
Yet while the immigration solutions are simple, changing the conversation is not.
By Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) – A recently released study by the Brookings Institution at Harvard has stirred up the debate over school choice and vouchers.
In some districts and states, parents can get vouchers to pay for their children’s education. Parents may choose to send their children to religious or private schools using the vouchers as payment for tuition. Much of the research surrounding the effectiveness of vouchers centers on more immediate outcomes, such as test scores.
The Brookings study was based on data collected on students who were recipients of vouchers from the privately funded New York School Choice Scholarships Foundation program. In 1997, the foundation offered three-year scholarships of up to $1,400 per year to 1,000 low-income families whose children were either entering first grade or were already in public schools in second through fifth grades. The Brookings study claims to be the first that used “a randomized experiment to measure the impact of school vouchers on college enrollment.” It also claims to be one of only a few studies to track longer-term outcomes, years after students received their first vouchers.
Overall, the study found no effect on college enrollment, except among African-Americans, where there was significant impact.
“Our estimates indicate that using a voucher to attend private school increased the overall college enrollment rate among African-Americans by 24%,” say Matthew M. Chingos and Paul E. Peterson, the study’s authors.
The study also indicates that enrollment rates in “selective colleges” more than doubled among African-American students who received vouchers.
Editor's note: Kay Bailey Hutchison is a Republican senator from Texas.
By Kay Bailey Hutchison, Special to CNN
(CNN) - In the run-up to the party conventions, new attention has been focused on women's issues in the political sphere. It has been accompanied by claims that the Republican Party is somehow unfriendly to women - which will be a surprise to the thousands of women attending the convention in Tampa, Florida.
The assertion is baseless. Having served 19 years in the Senate, and as a lifelong Republican, I have some perspective.
Much of the recent debate has focused on a narrow slice of what constitutes women's issues and how gender should direct women's views. But this is overly simplistic.
Women make up half of the most diverse country in the world. We are represented ethnically, socially, racially, economically, religiously and ideologically across the spectrum. To say that there is a set of concerns that can be labeled "women's issues" is absolutely true. To assume that we all feel the same way about them - or that we must feel the same way about them to represent our gender legitimately - is inherently sexist.
My experiences as a woman certainly inform my perspective, but they do not wholly define my political views. I am also guided by the values my family instilled and the educational opportunities I had growing up.
That we employ different methods and points of view does not mean that one or the other party is the natural place for women.
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
Washington (CNN) - South Carolina officials head to federal court on Monday to defend a controversial new voter identification law, dismissing suggestions the requirement would deny tens of thousands of people, many of them minorities, access to the ballot.
A weeklong trial will kick off in Washington before a panel of three judges who will decide whether the law should take effect. It is one of several legal challenges to voter identification laws nationwide.
A key enforcement provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, gives the federal government open-ended oversight of states and communities with a history of voter discrimination. Any changes in voting laws and procedures in those areas must be "pre-cleared" with Washington.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has defended the law, saying it will not harm any potential voter.
"The changes have neither the purpose nor will they have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority," Wilson said.
The Justice Department blocked the measure from taking effect last year, concluding it was discriminatory.
Federal officials cited figures that registered minority voters were about 20 percent more likely than white voters to lack state-issued photo identification.
The Justice Department estimated that more than 80,000 people in South Carolina could be adversely impacted by the planned requirements.
By Kevin Bohn, Melissa Dunst and Courtney Yager, CNN
(CNN) - It is a side of Mitt Romney the public often does not see - opening up about his faith, devotion to his family and his work as a Mormon overseas missionary and later church leader at home.
In a rare discussion of these topics, he described to CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger his 2½ years as a teenager serving as a church missionary in France. He said that period helped "ground my relationship with God" and cement his beliefs.
When Romney sat down with Borger this summer for CNN's documentary "Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and the Road to Power," it was while he was campaigning and fundraising in Indiana - and just a day before he secretly met with Rep. Paul Ryan to offer him the No.2 slot on the Republican ticket.
While it might be expected Romney would be guarded and on message as he is usually is on the campaign trail, he was candid on a range of topics - from his private life to religion to his wife - areas he rarely has talked about.
As he prepares to accept his party's nomination for president, Romney and his team are trying to show the voting public a more personal side of the candidate.
By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) - Monday through Saturday John Harris holds court at the Silver Moon Barber Shop on Auburn Avenue. There, amid the whirring fans and TV soaps, he greets clients, many he's known for decades.
Cutting hair is a family trade, one he took up after serving in the Army. It puts food on the table, he says, but more important, it affords Harris the opportunity to visit with people. In between clients, he sits reading the paper, looking up to share words with passers-by.
Silver Moon opened in 1904. It was one among many businesses run by African-Americans, for African-Americans, along Auburn Avenue. During the period of segregation this street was called the "richest Negro street in the world." The street existed because of the bleak realities of segregation, but in those days the corridor had a vibrant feel.
"This was a street full of people on Friday and Saturday nights. If you were in a car it would take you perhaps 15 or 20 minutes to go a block," recalls Wellington Cox Howard, a small-business owner on Auburn Avenue.
When Howard first arrived in Atlanta in the 1960s he made a beeline for the street. He had his first meal on Auburn, resided on the street, and when he graduated from college in 1970s, he decided to open his insurance business there.
But by that time, change had already arrived on Auburn. Howard recalls telling a friend about his decision to open up shop there.
"He said why do you want to go to Auburn Avenue? He said the city has integrated. He said we've all left."
Before integration, Howard says, Auburn was a city unto itself. African-Americans would come here for doctor's appointments, they'd come for entertainment, they'd come for banking and to start large construction projects. When integration came, African-American businesses spread throughout the city and the corridor lost much of its vibrancy.
This year, for the second time, the Sweet Auburn District was listed as endangered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a private nonprofit organization. This designation does not mean automatic funding for improvements, but the group says the attention often galvanizes efforts at preservation.