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Can the GOP, and Mitt Romney, reach Latino voters before it's too late?

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Every month for the next 20 years, 50,000 Latino voters will turn 18 – the equivalent of adding the entire state of Vermont to voter rolls each year. Hispanics already make up 40 percent of the population of Texas, and are pushing 30 percent in Nevada and north of 20 percent in Colorado.

Without Hispanic support, “Texas is one bad political environment away from being a presidential swing state,” says Chris Jankowski, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee that will put some $3 million behind more than 100 Latino candidates for state legislatures during the 2012 election cycle.

A growing consensus

Party leaders from President George W. Bush’s political mastermind Karl Rove and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to former Republican National Committee chairman and current senior Romney adviser Ed Gillespie all agree: The party cannot go on without making serious inroads into the Latino community.

“The Republican Party can’t do with a dynamic, growing part of the electorate like it’s done with the African-American vote, where it found itself in a place where we get five percent we consider ourselves fortunate, 10 percent we’re thrilled, 13 or 14 percent and we’re ecstatic,” Mr. Rove said.

Romney needs to dig deep into Hispanic advertising and television markets, Navarro advises, in order to begin clawing his way back.

There are signs that the Romney campaign is taking the task seriously: It unveiled two Spanish language ads during the convention, gave prime speaking roles to a trio of Hispanic Republican governors and Senator Rubio, and even Romney’s Spanish-speaking son, Craig, gave an address on the convention’s final night.

Yet some observers say they would be surprised to see Romney wade deeply into immigration specifically.

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