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Mayor Villaraigosa says divisive GOP rhetoric turning off Latinos

January 29, 2012 | 10:42 am

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa faced off Sunday with former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez about what both Democrats and Republicans need to do to win over Latino voters in the presidential election.

Appearing on CNN’s morning show, “State of the Union,” Villaraigosa said that some of the divisive rhetoric used by Republican presidential candidates on the immigration issue is turning off many Latino voters.  He said Republicans also should be supportive of immigration reforms that include providing the nation’s roughly 11 million illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship.

“America is a big tent,” he said. “Our politics and actions  should represent that.”

But Gutierrez, who served under President George W. Bush and has endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination, pointed out that Obama has been in office for three years and has yet to offer up a plan for comprehensive immigration reform.

“Democrats haven’t done any more than just speak about it,” Gutierrez said.

He said Republicans and Latinos share a lot in common, such as family values, and predicted that the party would be able to lure more Latino voters in the future.

But Villaraigosa noted that most Republicans have refused to discuss any form of amnesty program. He noted that even Romney has said that he would veto the Dream Act, proposed legislation that would allow college students whose parents illegally brought them to the United States as youngsters to get legal status.

“It’s not just about rhetoric,” Villaraigosa said. “Actions matter.”

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-- Carlos Lozano

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