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How desperate is GOP for Hispanics? RNC calls Miami mayor, 66, key to 'next generation' of voters


Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado was born in 1947, before color television and just after World War II.

But that didn't stop the Republican National Committee from praising Regalado's reelection victory Tuesday as important to attracting the "next generation" of Hispanic voters to the GOP.

"I look forward to working with Tomás and the RNC's Hispanic engagement team to build the next generation of Latino Republicans and to welcome new Latino voters to our party," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a congratulatory statement. (Note to RNC: In Florida, "Hispanic" is preferred to "Latino.")

The statement lauded Regalado as a fiscal conservative who cut his own pay and pension "to help the city get back on financial footing."

Republicans have lost several big-city mayorships in recent years, including Tuesday in New York, so it makes sense for the RNC to tout Regalado's landslide victory. It's also smart for the party, eager to attract minority support, to give national kudos to a Hispanic Republican.

But to say the 66-year-old Regalado is going to help the party recruit younger Hispanics to the GOP?

"I'm honored that they think I'm able to do that," Regalado said Wednesday. "If I can be some kind of role model for young voters, I'll be very happy. But I would not renounce my base -- the older Hispanics and the older African-Americans. I'm going to be their champion."

Regalado, a moderate in a nonpartisan post, said he was surprised by Priebus' statement: "I said, 'Wow! For the first time in many years, I'm relevant to the Republican Party.'"

And Republicans weren't the only ones doing the congratulating.

Regalado said he also received a call Wednesday from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who had endorsed Regalado's opponent before he dropped out of the race -- and from the White House.

It wasn't the president calling, just the director of intergovernmental affairs.

Still, Regalado said, "That's a first. I'm happy, because I think that Washington gets it now, that cities are the front line of the national campaign."