Republicans looking for ways to appeal to minorities - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Republicans looking for ways to appeal to minorities

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KENNEWICK, Wash. -- With the election now behind us, Republicans across the country are taking a closer look at why they lost the presidential race. Many experts say minorities are feeling left out.

Local Benton County GOP Statesman, Tony Benegas says it began with lack of outreach for years ago, something that is considered "pandering"among many Republicans. "We did not reach out to minorities, the Hispanics, Asian Americans and women.' We lost the Hispanic vote 3 to 1. 71% to 75% which is huge," Benegas said.

He said the decline has been happening for quite some time. "In 2004, Bush got 44% of the Hispanic vote..Where are we today? Obama got 75% of the Hispanic vote. Clearly we're doing something wrong. Part of the problem is our focus on immigration. Not just the focus but the harsh tones we're putting out" Benegas added.

Albert Torres, the President and Publisher of Tu Decides a bilingual newspaper popular in Eastern Washington says most Hispanics are conservative, but they do feel strongly about immigration reform.

"The nation has changed and this election is definitely an example of that," said Torres. Torres says the government needs to begin working through a plan for reform. "The Dream Act, that's an easy one that we can all agree on," added Torres.

"Clearly 80% of Americans are for something like a Dream Act. They think that's ok. But you have the rhetoric reaching such white hot proportions. You had a person here in Kennewick running who was advocating shooting illegal immigrants," said Benegas.

Paying attention to minorities is evident by the numbers. According to a report released by the Republican National Committee, 28% of voters in 2012 were minorities. By the year 2016, it is predicted 3/10 voters will be minorities.

238,000 more Hispanic voters participated in 2012 than in 2008 and Obama got 60% of their vote. He won the state by 78,000.

In Colorado 147,000 more young voters participated in 2012 than 2008 and Obama increased his share of the Hispanic vote from 61% to 75%. His margin of victory was 113,000 votes.

And it's not just race and age, Obama had an 18 point lead over Romney amongst women. Benegas says, times are changing, and the Republican party must learn to adapt to survive.

"Abortion, gay marriage, illegal immigration; those aren't the issues again most Americans care about. It's the jobs, its the economy, its health care," Benegas said. "In Washington, its very clear, the Republican Party lost on gay marriage. It's done. So we need to focus our priorities on this is the direction we need to put our energy and resources on. If we don't fix the economy, the rest doesn't really matter."

Benegas also said before they can move forward to making plans with the 2016 election, they must iron out some differences within their own party. "There will be a fight in the Republican party. You're going to see an attempt by those who think we need to be even more conservative. We need to take the party a little bit further to the right. And there's going to be a fight by others saying we can't support candidates that are so extreme in their views that they don't support all of us. and I think that's part of the problem that many people see.'"

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