Newt Gingrich has earned the endorsement of Somos Republicans, the nation's largest Hispanic Republican group, in an announcement that could help the House Speaker as the presidential campaign shifts towards South Carolina and Florida.
"We believe Newt Gingrich knows the importance of the Latino community," the group said in a statement released Monday. "Newt Gingrich has been working hard for many years to include American Hispanics in the overall conversation for a better America."
The group says it has a membership of more than 6,000 Hispanic Republicans. While the Hispanic population is low in South Carolina — representing fewer than 5 percent of the population — Hispanic Republicans represent a far wider influence in Florida, where they make up more than 17 percent of the population.
The endorsement comes as the front-runner for the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney, has taken a tough, anti-illegal immigration line in the primary that is intended to shore up his conservative flank. Romney has differed with both Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry during GOP debates on immigration. Some Democrats think Romney's stance could hurt him in the general election.
The group also said that it was "sad to see Jon Huntsman withdraw from the Republican primary election race" because of his support for the DREAM Act, which would provide permanent residency to children who illegally immigrated into the country but attended college or joined the military.
"We are disappointed in learning that Huntsman will support Mitt Romney which is unfortunate because Romney takes an non-humanitarian approach to the DREAM Act and legal immigration reform," the organization said in their statement. "Recently 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney stated he will veto the DREAM Act, therefore, Somos Republicans will veto Romney at the polls."