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McCain: GOP needs to address immigration in a 'humane' way

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said his home state and others could be "up for grabs" in the 2012 presidential election, due in large part to the growing numbers of Hispanic voters and warned GOP candidates to watch their rhetoric on immigration issues.

"The demographics are clear that the Hispanic vote will play a major role in national elections," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

However, higher numbers of Hispanic voters does not guarantee Obama an edge according to McCain, who said the president’s failure to fullfill some campaign promises on immigration makes that voting bloc competitive.

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McCain said Republican candidates will need to strike a "careful balance" on immigration when trying to court those voters.

“The Republican Party has to discuss this in as humane a way as possible," he said.

"We have to have empathy, we have to have concern and we have to have a plan," McCain added. “But at the same time, to say that we are going to have insecure borders … that’s not the message we want to send."

The most recent GOP candidate predicted that New Mexico, Colorado, and even Texas could become competitive battlegrounds in presidential elections. 

McCain carried Arizona in the previous election, winning over 53 percent of the vote. However, growing numbers of Hispanic voters may make the state more competitive growing forward.

Far away from the campaign trail this time around, McCain said it was a "relief" to watch from the sidelines, but was critical of the high number of debates held in the Republican primary thus far.

"I think maybe we’re getting a little too heavy on the debates, there’s a lot of other aspects to a campaign besides debates," he said. "There’s so many of them."

McCain also offered some kind words to Herman Cain, who announced Saturday he was suspending his campaign amidst multiple allegations of sexual impropriety.

“Thank you for serving, thank you for willing to get into the arena, and we wish you luck in the future in a good way," he said.