If Republicans fail to clean up their reputation with Hispanics through policy fixes, the party will be left to make adjustments in their tone and rhetoric -- a project complicated by conservatives like Iowa Rep. Steve King who have a knack for making inflammatory statements that quickly go viral on cable and the Internet.
In July, King said that for every child of an illegal immigrant who is a valedictorian, "there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
Party leaders were not amused.
"It's not just policy or whether there's action or inaction, it's also whether the Republican Party is viewed as welcoming to Hispanic citizens or hostile to Hispanic citizens," said Steve Munisteri, the chairman of the Texas Republican Party who has five full-time Hispanic outreach directors working on staff. "It's hard to fake people out on sincerity. If the national party doesn't roll out the welcome mat, were going to have the door slammed in our face."