Promising unprecedented outreach to Hispanic voters in 2012, the chairman of the Republican National Committee said on Monday that the party is dispatching Hispanic directors to six battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Virginia.
The selection is interesting because Virginia and North Carolina have much smaller, though growing, Hispanic populations of about 8 percent. The anticipated outreach in those two states suggests the GOP sees the Hispanic community as pivotal to winning states that had backed the Republican presidential nominee for decades but voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Obama also won the other four targeted states with much larger Hispanic populations.
“We are going to engage Hispanics and Latinos like we never have before,’’ RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told reporters in a telephone call.
It’s a matter of survival; Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the electorate and polls show Obama with a substantial edge in that demographic.
Noting that the unemployment rate among Hispanics is 2 percentage points higher than the national average, Priebus said the party would focus its communications with Hispanics on the economy, government spending, and the national debt. Asked about immigration – which Democrats see as a winning issue -- Priebus said the GOP would remind Hispanic voters that the president had broken his promise to deliver immigration reform in his first term. “You have a president who has either lied or been so grossly negligent on his promises on immigration he shouldn’t be trusted,’’ Priebus said.
The Republican line of attack is complicated, however, by the fact that most party leaders oppose offering illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, including young people who attend college or sign up for the military and would benefit from the Dream Act.
The presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, told donors on Sunday at a private fundraiser in Florida that the party needs to come up with a Republican version of the DREAM Act to woo Hispanic voters, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and MSNBC.