Harsh immigration tone pushing Hispanics from GOP

January 15, 2012 - 12:17 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Republican Party is beefing up its minority outreach nationwide and preparing to put its rising Latino stars on the campaign trail amid concerns that tough immigration rhetoric in the presidential primary is taking on an increasingly anti-Hispanic tone.

But immigrant-rights groups and some political watchers say the damage may be irreversible. They say the GOP has severely hampered itself as it looks to woo the critical Latino voting bloc that could decide who wins key states like New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Florida next fall.

The government projects Hispanics will account for roughly 30 percent of the population by 2050. Overall, Hispanics traditionally tilt Democrat, meaning the Republican Party is looking at a future threat to their power if they don't make inroads with this politically pivotal group now.