TIME Magazine is making a bold claim: The Latino vote will decide the 2012 elections.
Their cover story, written by Michael Sherer, argues that the Latino vote has grown in certain parts of the country that may determine our President in 2012.
Sherer says that new voters in the Southwest are largely Latino, and that if Obama is able to win "heavily-Latino Western states like Nevada, Colorado and Arizona," he would be able to afford losing industrial Midwestern states like Ohio and Wisconsin.
The author calls it an "awkward coincidence" that the last of the Republican debates is occurring in Arizona -- a state known for its controversial immigration laws. Many believe the GOP's harsh rhetoric surrounding undocumented immigrants has alienated Latinos from the Republican party, and may in turn cost the party the election in 2012.
Somos Republicans founder DeeDee Garcia Blase is one of those people.
She told The Huffington Post that she joined the Republican Party because of the its emphasis on "family values," "capitalism and national security." A fifth generation Mexican-American and a former business owner who served in the U.S. Air Force during the senior Bush administration, Blase says the Republican party has "lost its way."
"They've dehumanized the undocumented immigrant, and people that look like them," Garcia Blase said. "I'm angry that I have to be defending my rights against laws like those in Arizona. I was willing to die for this country, and now I have to defend myself?"
During recent campaign stops and debates, some Republican candidates have ratcheted up their anti-immigrant talk, pledging aggressive measures to discourage illegal immigration. Romney suggested making life so difficult for undocumented immigrants that they "self-deport," Gingrich called for a "double fence," and Ron Paul pledged to "attack their benefits," such as "free education" and "birth right citizenship".
The March 5th issue of TIME Magazine also features an exclusive interview with Marco Rubio, who warns that the Republican party must soften their tone on immigration to appeal to the Latino voter.
Rubio said to TIME:
What’s the Republican legal-immigration plan? And that’s a problem, when all they hear from you is what you’re against and not what you’re for. The Republican Party has to become the pro–legal immigration party. It has to be a party that puts out two things: a commonsense, compassionate yet law-based response to people that are here without documents, and a robust legal-immigration system that emphasizes border security, worker security and an workable visa program.
Last night at the Republican debate in Arizona, CNN's John King asked Newt Gingrich if he agreed with Rubio's characterization of some of the GOP candidates' rhetoric on the issue as "harsh, intolerable, inexcusable."
Gingrich wouldn't confirm or deny that his party's tone had veered in this direction, saying, "I don't know who [Rubio is] referring to, so I'm not going to comment in general on a statement."