The GOP’s ‘problems with the Hispanics’

John McCain talked to Chuck Todd this morning, and acknowledged his party’s “problems” with a certain constituency. (via Jenee Desmond-Harris)

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For those who can’t watch clips online, Todd asked the Republican senator if the state of Arizona is “in play” in 2012. After a lengthy pause, there was this exchange:

McCain: I think that if not this election cycle, the demographics are that Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, even Texas will all be in play.

Todd: And if Republicans don’t fix the problem?

McCain: Yes, yes. We have to fix our problems with the Hispanics.

Todd: And it starts where?

McCain: It starts with a way to address the issue of immigration in a humane and caring fashion, at the same time emphasizing the need to secure our borders because of the drug cartels and the people who transport people across our border and treat them terribly.

This strikes me as odd. For one thing, McCain helped create the Republicans’ “problems with the Hispanics” by abandoning everything he’d ever said about immigration policy during his 2008 presidential campaign.

For another, the Republican McCain just endorsed, Mitt Romney, has spent much of the year exploiting anti-immigrant animus within the Republican Party’s right-wing base, further alienating the Latino community.

Lionel Sosa, a Texas strategist who advised George W. Bush and John McCain on appealing to Hispanics, recently told the NYT, “[Romney] can make as many trips to Florida and New Mexico and Colorado and other swing states that have a large Latino population, but he can write off the Latino vote. He’s not going to gain it again.”

McCain wants his party to “fix our problems with the Hispanics”? It sounds like he and his allies are making matters worse, not better.

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Steve Benen

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.