GOP Intensifies Its Outreach To Latino Voters Focusing On The Economy

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Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is trying to end the deficit it's running with Latino voters by stepping up its outreach efforts.

President Barack Obama leads the presumptive Republican nominee by 40 percentage points among Latinos, according to the latest Pew Research Center poll.

In 2008, Obama carried two-thirds of the Latino vote, and just this week, the Obama re-election campaign released four Spanish-language ads.

The Republican National Committee's director of Hispanic outreach, Bettina Inclan, spoke to NPR's Scott Simon on Weekend Edition to explain how Republicans expect to close that gap.

Inclan acknowledges that the GOP has a lot to of work to do to connect with Hispanics. This week, the RNC announced the appointment of six Hispanic outreach directors in the key swing states of Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia.

"The reason that we are putting people on the ground is because each of these communities is different. Hispanics are not a monolithic vote. They're different communities with different priorities," says Inclan.

She says Republicans can gain ground by focusing the discussion on the economy. A Pew Research Survey conducted last December, found that half of the Latino voters surveyed considered jobs to be an extremely important issue; only a third of those surveyed considered immigration an extremely important issue.

"The one thing that does tie them all together is the number one issue for the last two years for Hispanics — in poll after poll — has been the economy and jobs," said Inclan. "That's a direct reflection of the poor track record of President Barack Obama."

Meanwhile, Romney has faced criticism for his stance on immigration, including comments he made during the GOP primary debates that when faced with tough immigration laws, illegal immigrants would choose self-deportation.

Obama's campaign, meanwhile, is highlighting the president's record on the economy and efforts to improve access to education for Latinos. They say the president's administration has kept millions of Latinos from falling out of the middle class.

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