The Republican National Committee named Bettina Inclan, an experienced strategist and new media expert, as the party's Hispanic outreach coordinator to help the GOP connect better with the Hispanic community.
During a teleconference with RNC Chairman Rience Priebus, Inclan said the Republican Party reaching out to Hispanics is not new.
"I've been involved with these issues for 10 years from Florida to California," Inclan said. "This election is going to be about the economy, about jobs."
Priebus and Inclan said the Republican Party plans to focus on battleground states, which include New Mexico, where former El Pasoan Susana Martinez, a Republican, is the governor.
According to her blog, Inclan is a communications and political strategist with experience in coalition building. She pioneered new media strategies for the Republican leadership office and helped train congressional offices about new media.
She also has been a press spokeswoman for causes and high-profile candidates, including in Sen. John McCain's previous presidential bid.
The announcement comes at the same time that U.S. Census Bureau statistics are showing that in recent years, nearly one in two Americans has become poor or dropped to a lower income bracket. Minorities, including Hispanics and African-Americans, have been among those hardest hit by the economic downturn.
While immigration is an important issue to the Hispanic community, some polls suggest that a stagnant national economy is a
greater concern for most Hispanics. The 11 percent unemployment rate for Hispanics is higher than the national rate of 8.5 percent.
About 50 million Hispanics or Hispanics live in the United States, 16 percent of the total population. In El Paso County, about 85 percent of residents are Hispanic.
Sammy Carrejo, a former chairman of the relatively new El Paso Latino National Republican Coalition, with branches in other parts of Texas, said Hispanics have more in common with the GOP than may be evident at first.
"Our goal is to educate the Latino community and all of the people of El Paso about our conservative message, and to get more people involved in the local Republican Party," Carrejo said. "We have a website with information about the organization at www.elpasolnrc.com.
"It's not about having political pachangas (festive celebrations) or catering to a certain group. The Republican Party is about equality for everyone."
Soon after the GOP announcement about Inclan's appointment, the Texas Democratic Party issued the following statement:
"It'll be difficult for the RNC to convince Latinos that they want them in their party when Republicans don't even want Latinos in this country," said Texas Democratic Party spokes woman Rebecca Acuna. "Unless the RNC mutes their candidates, this will be quite a challenging endeavor. Republicans have been some of the Democrats' best surrogates within the Latino community."
El Paso voters, who tend to support Democratic Party candidates, voted for former Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush when he ran for president.
"That was a unique situation because Bush visited El Paso several times and his wife, Laura Bush, had family here," said Danny Anchondo, chairman of the El Paso County Democratic Party. "What the Republicans are doing with this outreach is too little, too late to make inroads in the presidential election, especially in El Paso."
El Paso Democrats have websites at elpasodemocrats.org and bepd.org.
Since Mitt Romney's victory in the New Hampshire GOP primary, Internet sites were abuzz with speculation that the presidential campaign ticket could include a Hispanic vice-presidential candidate.
Priebus said it was too early for the GOP to discuss such a possibility when the party had not selected a candidate.
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