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McCain courts Latino vote

May 6, 2008 at 8:31 PM

PHOENIX, May 6 (UPI) -- Republican presidential hopeful John McCain is trying to woo Latino voters while trying to assure conservatives he'll fight illegal immigration, observers say.

The Arizona senator has called for tighter U.S. borders, while declining to wade into controversial sweeps against illegal immigrants, as in Maricopa County, Ariz.,The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.

"A lot of times it saddens me to see these conflicting approaches toward the issue of illegal immigration because we would not have this problem if the federal government had carried out its responsibilities," McCain said Monday during a Cinco de Mayo news conference in Phoenix.

The presumptive GOP candidate also acknowledged his party's image among Latinos has suffered as a result of the "tenor" of the illegal-immigration debate during the primaries.

Political observers say McCain is attempting a balancing act, the newspaper reported.

"Being a Republican handicaps any candidate within the Hispanic community," said Rodolfo Espino, an assistant political science professor at Arizona State University. "It just sounds like McCain is playing it really, really cautious right now with the Hispanic community."

To help attract Hispanic support, McCain has a Spanish-language campaign Web site and plans a July 14 appearance at the Council of La Raza's annual convention in San Diego.

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