Sen. Rand Paul says the Republican Party must get beyond the issue of deportation if it is to gain traction with Hispanic voters.
In a speech Tuesday for the launch of the Media Research Center's Spanish-language media watchdog, "MRC Latino," the Kentucky Republican added that if conservatives engage with Hispanics directly, the Latino community will realize they share the GOP's values, ABC News
"The bottom line is the Hispanic community is not going to hear us until we get beyond this issue," said Paul, a possible 2016 White House contender. "Until we get to that point, they are not going to listen to any of the next message.
"What's happened is that there is not the perception of empathy coming from the Republican Party that we care about Hispanics, and where they are coming from, and what their problems are," he said.
Paul also quoted former President Ronald Reagan, who said, "'Hispanics are conservative, they just don't know it yet.'"
"Are there many in the Latino community who go to church and believe in traditional values and who are conservative? Yes. Maybe half. Maybe 60 percent … there's enormous upside potential."
In the 2012 presidential election, the Democratic Party captured 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, compared to Republicans' 27 percent. A number of politicians and pundits have said recently that the long-term future of the GOP will depend on its ability to attract the country's increasing percentage of Hispanic voters.
Paul said he is confident Republicans can double their Hispanic vote in 2016, according to ABC News, but first conservatives need to "get the door ajar."
For a start, he said, the GOP must assure them that "Mrs. Garcia's nephew is not going to be sent home to Mexico."
Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio delivered a video message in Spanish at the event in support of MRC Latino, whose stated aim is to expose left-leaning political bias in America's Spanish-language media.
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