1897_custom650x400Under the banner “The Next Generation of Conservatives” Al Cardenas kicked off the 2013 Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC), the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservatives, activists and prominent GOP voices. Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU), outlined three critical goals moving forward, including “embrace changing demographics of America not by diluting our principles but reaching out to all Americans.”

America has changed significantly since the ACU began hosting CPAC 40 years ago. In today’s America Hispanics now make up 16% of the U.S. population and growing rapidly, with over 500,000 Hispanic youth turning 18 each year – voting age. This reality has not escaped conservative leaders, wide-eyed after the 2012 election.

Under Chairman Cardenas, CPAC has continued its tradition of showcasing diverse conservative voices from every background. It’s fitting that each year more of those voices happen to be of Hispanic origin.

Discussing dozens of issues during the three-day conference Hispanic conservatives peppered various panels providing their expertise and insights. Latino foreign policy specialists like Roger Noriega and Otto Riech, prominent business leaders like Hector Barreto, pro-immigration reform advocates, grassroots organizers and top Hispanic GOP elected leaders filled the National Harbor outside of Washington DC for CPAC.

The conference’s opening day featured Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Closing out the conference was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who was tapped to give the keynote address.

A central message at CPAC is that Hispanics have much more in common with the GOP than they think.

The conservative movement is an attractive place for Hispanics, many who naturally share values with the right of center movement. Latino political attitudes on the importance of hard work, entrepreneurship, family and education all provide an opening for conservatives with this growing demographic.  A 2012 Gallup poll showed that second generation Hispanics are more open to conservative policies than their immigrant parents, demonstrating that attitudes about the role of government shift significantly between generations.

Rejecting calls from political pundits, conservatives do not believe they need to change core principles – individual liberty, personal reasonability, free enterprise and the belief in American exceptionalism – to attract new voters. Conservatives don’t need new principles, they need new ideas and better tactics on how to communicate these values to Hispanic voters.  A suggestion repeated by speakers throughout CPAC.

“You grow your tent by convincing others, persuading others that yours is the way. And you build your tent by reaching out to the new demographics of America, not with a watered down version of who we ought to be,” said Cardenas, who is the first Hispanic to lead the ACU.

Republican groups are gearing up efforts to advocate for immigration reform rolling out a national media campaign. Today, the Hispanic Leadership Network (HLN) announced a six-figure national ad buy in English and Spanish featuring HLN Co-Chair former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. The ad is part of a new campaign “Be Part of the Solution,” geared to encourage passage of bipartisan immigration reform. Watch the ad below.

In the ad, Secretary Gutierrez states, “America’s the only place where a little boy who couldn’t speak English can grow up to be a CEO and U.S. secretary of Commerce… Washington must pass immigration reform that grows the economy and respects the rule of law.”

Gutierrez was born in Cuba. When he was six, he and his family fled to Mexico from Communist Cuba. When he was 22 he joined the Kellogg company in Mexico and worked himself up the ranks. In January 1999, Gutierrez was elected to the Kellogg’s Board of Directors and by April of 1999, he was appointed president and CEO. Carlos Gutierrez took the helm at Kellogg becoming the company’s youngest CEO in nearly 100- year history. He also became the only Latino CEO of a Fortune 500 company. In 2004, Fortune Magazine dubbed Gutierrez as “The Man Who Fixed Kellogg” turning around the company’s finances. He went on to become Secretary of Commerce under the Bush Administration.

Read the full press release form HLN after the jump.

Recently, I was invited by CBS to be part of a Google Hang out to talk about the growing Hispanic vote. The two part interview was a lively discussion with a diverse set of characters working in and out of the world of politics.

The hangout was hosted by CBS News’ John Dickerson. He tried to organize our lively group which included Gabriela Domenzain of the Obama Campaign; Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network Jennifer Sevilla Korn; Founder of LatinoRebels.com, Julio Ricardo Varela; Esai Morales, Actor and Co-Founder of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts; America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry and myself.

Watch the video below for see the conversation. A segment of the Google+ Hangout will be shown on CBS News Sunday morning show, Face the Nation.

Watch this interview on FOX’s Happening Now as Alicia Menendez and discuss the importance of the Hispanic Vote.

From Fox News Latino:

Director of the Republican National Committee Hispanic Outreach campaign, Bettina Inclan, and Senior Editor of Politic365.com, Alicia Menendez, debate the Latino Vote 2012.

Inclan and Menendez debate whether Mitt Romney is right about the “doomsday scenario” the Republican party could face if current polls are right about Latino voter attitudes toward the GOP.

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/04/19/latino-vote-2012-bettina-inclan-vs-alicia-menendez/#ixzz2MckrqAPb