Now Republicans are having their say and trying to convince Latino voters into giving them a chance at reclaiming the presidency. In what are expected to be the highly competitive states of Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado, the Republican Party has released a new radio ad in Spanish that tries to change the subject away from immigration to an area where some Republicans think they might get traction with Latino voters: cutting spending, preventing tax increases, and balancing the federal budget by not increasing the national debt limit. The ad — which was put out by an outfit called Crossroads GPS, which was founded by Karl Rove — features a woman who voted for Obama but now regrets it and can’t sleep because she worries about her children’s economic future.

Ironically, Republicans have a strong case to make on immigration if only they choose to make it. They could start by pointing out the failings and dishonesty of the Obama administration, and then make clear that — despite what you hear from some Republicans in states like Arizona, Georgia, and South Carolina where lawmakers are eager to deputize local cops to enforce federal immigration law — anti-illegal immigrant does not mean anti-Latino. Then they could spell out their own plans to provide their supporters in the business community with guest workers, and provide workers who are already here with a pathway to earned legal status.

Then and only then can Republicans hope to engage Latino voters on a host of issues on which the two might agree such as gay marriage, abortion, strong defense, lower taxes etc. And why is that? It’s because, whether Latinos are putting up with Democrats who take them for granted or Republicans who write them off, the single most important commodity to Latino voters is respect. They hunger for it, and they don’t get enough of it.

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