Sen. Marco Rubio says it will take Republicans more than one election cycle to draw the kind of support from Hispanic voters that Democrats have profited from for decades.
In an interview Wednesday with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, the Florida Republican acknowledged the difficulty of the task, given that most Hispanic voters appear ready to throw their support behind President Barack Obama again this year.
“I don’t think this is a one election commitment by Republicans,” he told Van Susteren shortly after delivering a speech to the Latino Coalition Economic Summit in Washington, D.C.
“As the Republican Party, we need to be the party of the free enterprise system,” Rubio said. “And we’ve got to make that argument consistently over a long period of time, not just one election cycle.”
Rubio predicted, however, that Republicans would peel away a significant amount of support from Hispanic Americans as the campaign goes on and more voters are exposed to what he said was Obama’s failure to deliver on many of the promises he made in 2008.
Rubio — who’s been mentioned as a possible running mate to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney — also spoke briefly about immigration and blamed Democrats for not moving on reform legislation that would make it easier to enforce the laws and easier for immigrants to stay in the country.
“I think there are some people in the Democratic Party, not all, that think the immigration issue is more valuable to them unsolved,” he said, adding that it gives them something to talk about with the Hispanic community in every election cycle.
“For some Democrats the issue of immigration is better for them, politically, if they just leave it the way it is right now because they can use it against Republicans,” Rubio said.
The freshman senator also blamed the lack of progress on other issues on the Democrats as well.
“I think part of it is that we are now in a perpetual campaign,” he said.
At the Hispanic summit, Rubio also decried the general state of American politics, accusing politicians of campaigning on a message of division.
“The one that’s troubled me the most is this deliberate division of the American people against each other,” Rubio said. “Last three and a half years after our elections, irrespective of how you felt about how they turned out, we all had hope that this nation would embark at a new moment . . . and have a real honest societal wide conversation about what kind of country we want to be, what kind of role we want to play in the world, and what kind of role we want our government to play in our lives.
"Well any hope of that is now gone.”
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