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Republican Party Autopsy Author Goes Off On GOP As Trump’s DACA Decision Nears

“Those in Republican leadership who have enabled his behavior by standing silent or making excuses for him deserve the reckoning that will eventually come for the GOP,” Sally Bradshaw, a longtime adviser to Jeb Bush, told BuzzFeed News.

Posted on September 3, 2017, at 10:59 p.m. ET

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President Trump

As President Donald Trump nears a decision on what to do with undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, Republicans will again face immigration policy issues with the immigration status of thousands with next year's mid-term elections in the mix.

Trump on Tuesday is expected to reveal what he will do with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, an Obama-era initiative that protects those immigrants from deportation. Politico, citing two unidentified sources, reported late Sunday that the White House is expected to end DACA but leave a window for the GOP-controlled Congress to take up the issue. (BuzzFeed News has not confirmed that, though.)

Just four years ago, building stronger relationships with Hispanic voters was among the key recommendations from the Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project — better known as the “autopsy” following the party’s loss in the 2012 presidential election.

“If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence,” the autopsy concluded. “It doesn’t matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies. In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our Party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door.”

Trump basically rejected the autopsy in total, campaigning on a tough anti-immigration platform that included a pledge to complete a border wall between the US and Mexico and saying, in his announcement speech, that Mexico was sending "rapists" to the US.

BuzzFeed News reached out to all five autopsy coauthors Friday with three questions:

What concerns, if any, you have for the future of the party should the president end DACA?

Do you believe doing so would run counter to your recommendations?

Do you have any other concerns about the president’s leadership with regard to recommendations from the Growth and Opportunity Project?

By Sunday evening, only one of the coauthors had responded: Sally Bradshaw, who was a top adviser to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his unsuccessful campaign for last year’s Republican presidential nomination — and who has spent the time since that period offering increasingly and deeply critical assessments of Trump.

Bradshaw started with a reminder via email that she left the GOP last summer, after Trump’s nomination was secure. She wrote that she now has no party affiliation.

“Donald Trump is anti-woman, anti-Hispanic, anti-black, anti-anything that would bring the country together,” she responded when pressed further. “The only thing he is for is himself. Those in Republican leadership who have enabled his behavior by standing silent or making excuses for him deserve the reckoning that will eventually come for the GOP. It makes me terrifically sad to be honest — sad for the party of ideas that I supported for over 30 years — even more sad for the country and the fact that we can no longer have a credible and important debate about issues that will lead to problem solving. I am a conservative. But I can’t and won’t be a Republican as long as Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party.”

Autopsy coauthors who did not respond: Henry Barbour, an RNC committeeman from Mississippi; former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer; Zori Fonalledas, an RNC committeewoman from Puerto Rico; and Glenn McCall, an RNC committeeman from South Carolina.

Several prominent Republicans have expressed a desire to negotiate on DACA, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.

A RNC spokesperson declined to comment.


Ari Fleischer was White House press secretary. An earlier version of this story misstated his title.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.