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RNC Announces New Latino Vote Effort

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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced a new Latino vote effort on Monday.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced a new Latino vote effort on Monday.

The Republican National Committee is sending Latino outreach directors to swing states with large Hispanic populations as part of a larger effort to win more of the vote, officials announced on Monday.

"We are going to engage Hispanics and Latinos like we've never done before," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said on a call with reporters.

The state directors will be in place by the end of the month in Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Virginia and New Mexico, the RNC announced. Priebus declined to comment on how much money would be devoted to the effort.

The main pitch: Latinos have been hit hard by the economic recession, and Republicans say President Barack Obama is to blame for not aiding them more.

Priebus said Republicans are also aiming to remind Latino voters that Obama failed to deliver on a campaign promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the first year of his presidency, despite a majority in the House and the Senate.

"I would also remind Latino and Hispanic voters who are concerned about this particular issue that you have a president that has either lied or has been so grossly negligent ... with regards to immigration that he shouldn't be trusted," Priebus said.

A majority of Latinos disagree with the Republican Party's views on immigration, but Priebus said they should see that the party is trying to engage the issue more.

"I guess generally I think my conclusion would be that it should be a sign to Hispanic and Latino voters that you have a party that is engaging in these conversations in a constructive and intelligent way," he said.

In Florida, where a number of Latinos are Cuban-American and share, in general, different views from Hispanics nationwide, there will be other plans for outreach, Priebus said. But Bettina Inclan, the RNC's director of Hispanic Outreach, said they will not push different messages in Spanish than in English.

Obama For America is also ramping up its Latino voter outreach efforts. The New York Times reported on Monday that the organization is sending workers to Arizona's Hispanic-heavy neighborhoods and colleges to register voters. The state went went red in 2008 for home-state Sen. John McCain, but Democrats are hoping to put it in play in 2012 by focusing on the growing Latino population there.

Priebus said the Obama campaign is "setting up a mirage that somehow Arizona could be an Obama state."

A strong majority of Latinos support Obama over GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, even though approval for Obama has dipped from 58 percent in 2010 to 49 percent in 2011.

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