Jackie Kucinich, USA Today, June 15, 2011
Republican leaders have repeatedly stressed the need for their 2012 nominee to win the growing Hispanic vote, but most of the party’s president contenders have no outreach focusing specifically on Hispanics.
More than 50 million Hispanics live in the USA, a 46% increase from the past decade, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
Hispanics made up 6.9% of voters in last year’s midterm elections, up from 5.8% in 2006, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Sixty percent of Hispanics voted for Democratic candidates, Pew records show.
Hispanics backed Democrat Barack Obama over McCain, R-Ariz., by 67% to 31% in 2008, records show. Obama and his campaign organization have made moves to keep their support.
None of the campaign websites for the major contenders has a Spanish-language version, only one appears to have staff dedicated to Hispanic outreach.
Two Republican candidates have made some early efforts to contact Hispanic voters.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich long ago began establishing roots in the Hispanic community through his various businesses, including The Americano, a conservative Hispanic news site. He gave one of his first interviews after announcing his candidacy to Univision. Sylvia Garcia, Hispanic outreach director for the Gingrich campaign, will lead Gingrich’s “Hispanic inclusion” effort that is likely to launch in the coming months.
Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty was the only 2012 contender to attend the Hispanic Leadership Network conference in Florida in January. The event, co-chaired by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former Commerce secretary Carlos Gutierrez, was sponsored by the Republican American Action Network.
Jesse Benton, a spokesman for Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, said Paul places a “high value” on Hispanic outreach.
“We know that Dr. Paul’s message of personal liberty, strong families and vision for economic prosperity have a natural appeal to Hispanics and will make communicating to Latinos a priority for our team,” he said.