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Be careful how you talk about illegal immigration, GOP official says (VIDEO)

Illegal immigration is a key issue facing 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls. Former Senator Norm Coleman told reporters Tuesday that debating the issue is a good thing, but the tone of the debate is hurting Republican candidates.

Congressional Leadership Fund chairman Norm Coleman speaks at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor

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Republican candidates need to watch the tone of their comments about immigration to avoid hurting their party, says former Sen. Norm Coleman, chair of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Super PAC that works to elect Republicans to the House.

“It is not the debate, it is the tone of the debate and some of the voices that have been out there that I don’t think have been very helpful,” Mr. Coleman said at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters. 

Immigration played a key role in last week’s GOP debate on national security. During the debate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he would favor letting certain illegal immigrants – those who had been in the country 25 years, paid taxes, and had ties to the community – stay in the US without being granted citizenship.

Rep. Michele Bachmann said Mr. Gingrich’s approach "in effect is amnesty." Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Gingrich’s plan would serve as a magnet for illegal immigration.

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