GINGRICH STILL HOPING FOR SHORT MEMORIES…. I continue to think the disgraced former House Speaker is a pretty awful choice for Republican outreach to Hispanic voters.

Former House Speaker and potential 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is trying hard to reach out to conservative Hispanics, while also calling for comprehensive immigration reform.

“We have to design a program that is more advantageous to be legal than illegal,” he said at the Hispanic Forum Thursday, an event hosted by his Hispanic news and opinion website, The Americano. “I believe we have to have a commitment that every person in America is here legally…. We are not going to deport 11 million people. There has to be some zone between deportation and amnesty.”

Given that most on the right consider anything less than deportation and/or imprisonment to necessarily be “amnesty,” I’m not sure where Gingrich thinks this elusive middle ground is hiding.

Regardless, as flawed as the message is, I still find the messenger to be even worse.

It was, after all, the former House Speaker who, in giving a speech to a Republican group in 2007, described bilingual education as teaching “the language of living in a ghetto.” He’s also mocked the idea of printing government documents in anything but English, and promoted English-only measures.

In 1995, Gingrich said bilingualism poses “long-term dangers to the fabric of our nation” and that “allowing bilingualism to continue to grow is very dangerous.”

And earlier this year, it was Gingrich who blasted Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as a “racist,” who should be “forced to withdraw” from consideration for the high court. He added that Sotomayor had to be rejected “if Civil War, suffrage, and Civil Rights are to mean anything.”

But now that Republicans are worried about losing the Latino vote for the indefinite future, Gingrich is going to help bring the GOP message to the Latino community? Good luck with that.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.