As Republican leaders try to woo Latino voters with a new openness to legal status for the nation's illegal immigrants, the party remains at odds with America's fastest-growing ethnic community on another key issue: healthcare.
Latinos, who have the lowest rates of health coverage in the country, are among the strongest backers of PresidentObama's healthcare law. In a recent national poll, supporters outnumbered detractors by more than 2 to 1. Latinos also overwhelmingly see guaranteeing healthcare as a core government responsibility, surveys show.
Yet congressional Republicans continue to make repeal of the 2010 Affordable Care Act a top agenda item and have renewed calls for deep cuts in health programs such as Medicaid, which are very popular with Latinos.
"Obamacare is a colossal mistake for our country," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said recently in a speech on the Senate floor. "It needs to be pulled out by its roots."
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Alexandra Franceschi expressed confidence that Latinos would ultimately recognize that the law raises costs and burdens businesses. "We're going to do a better job explaining why this law is negatively affecting all Americans, including the Hispanic community," she said.
At the same time, however, attacking the law risks undermining the RNC's planned minority outreach campaign, which party leaders said in a recent strategy blueprint must convince Latinos "we care about them."