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Jeff Horwich: In 2004, George W. Bush won close to half of the U.S. Hispanic vote. Four years later, John McCain got less than a third.
At the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week, the GOP hopes to regain ground by featuring prominent Hispanic Republicans. Here’s Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler.
Jeff Tyler: Tonight, Texas Senatorial candidate Ted Cruz will speak at the convention. He’s likely to repeat past comments, indicting the Democratic party.
Ted Cruz: More and more government spending, higher and higher debt, more government control of the economy and our lives.
For Cruz, the Republican party represents…
Cruz: Getting back to limited government, free market principles, individual liberty and the Constitution.
Cruz is the face of a new breed of Republican. He’s a Tea-Party favorite. And Hispanic — the son of immigrants from Cuba.
Juan Hernandez: I think you’re going to see a convention that is going to be much more open to Hispanics.
That’s Juan Hernandez, co-founder of the Hispanic Republicans of Texas. He says the Texas delegation will promote a softer approach to immigration policy.
Hernandez: There was a proposal in favor of creating enough visas for the undocumented.
But the party’s tough official immigration platform has turned off many Latino voters. Still, the party sees potential, since Hispanics share a lot in common with the conservative right. Gary Segura is the founder of a private polling firm called Latino Decisions.
Gary Segura: You’ve got a community that is religiously observant. Incredibly family-oriented. Very entrepreneurial — starting businesses left and right. And believe in self-reliance. Then, in a conventional sense, that sounds Republican.
These traits once led Ronald Reagan to say, “Latinos are Republicans — they just don’t know it yet.” But, Segura says, there’s a catch.
Segura: Those very same people don’t think religion belongs in the ballot box. And those very same people think government has to have an active role in solving economic problems.
Segura says Ronald Reagan was great with a quote, but in this case, he didn’t know what he was talking about. Polls show that Hispanic support for Mitt Romney is down to around 25 percent.
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