GOP announces outreach effort to gain Latino voters — again.

As many Republicans will tell you, illegal immigration is hardly the only issue that Latino voters care about. And they're right about that.

But still, the RNC needs to read the latest report from the Pew Hispanic Center that came out right before the New Year:

Latinos are nearly twice as likely as the general public (42% versus 24%) to say the priority should be a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

About as many Latinos as the general public (46% versus 43%) say equal priority should be given to enforcement and legalization. Just 10% of Latinos say priority should be given to better border security and enforcement, compared with 29% of the general public.

On a conference call on Wednesday, RNC Chair Reince Priebus said that with the Hispanic unemployment rate at 11 percent, the "Republican message of economic security will resonate with Latinos." He added that the party will now employ "an aggressive communications plan to make sure Latinos are hearing our message of job creation." Oh, and there's also a new RNC Latino Twitter account and Tumblr blog.

The GOP's apparent nominee, Mitt Romney, has made a concerted effort to show his toughness on the immigration issue, memorably announcing that he does not support the Dream Act, a bill that would provide a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrant's children who attend college or serve in the military.

That position ain't going to help attract more Latino votes. Not unless you disbelieve that same Pew Hispanic Center poll that reports that 88 percent of Latino registered voters nationwide support the DREAM Act.

But RNC Chair Priebus blasted President Obama as "hypocrite in chief," because, with a Democratic House and Senate at the end of 2010, he still couldn't pass the Dream Act (not that Priebus had an opinion whether it was a good piece of legislation or not). "When it comes to the Dream Act, the president has sold them (Latinos) a bill of goods," he said with relish.

When she was asked specifically about the Dream Act, Bettina Inclan deferred, saying the candidates are talking about their policies, and her charge with the RNC is to get the word out on economic opportunities.

Even with his falling numbers, the Pew poll showed that in a hypothetical match-up against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama wins 68% to 23% among Latino registered voters.

  • Bettina Inclan

With a new poll in Florida showing Barack Obama's support among Latino voters has fallen by 11 percent, the Republican National Committee on Wednesday announced an expanded national Latino outreach program nationwide, including naming a new Hispanic outreach director, Bettina Inclan.

As the RNC's Political Director Rick Wiley writes in a memo, "You would have to be living under a rock to not recognize the growing importance of the Latino vote, both today and in elections to come. The facts about demographic change are indisputable. Fifty thousand young Latino adults reach voting age each month. Over one in five people under the age of 18 in America today is Latino. Over 10 million Latino voters will participate in the 2012 election."

It's undeniable that the Latino vote is coveted, but the RNC might capture more of it if its presidential candidates could modulate the harsh rhetoric about illegal immigration they've been using during the debates.

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