Former Florida Republican Hispanic Director Switches Parties

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Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A former Republican National Committee Florida Hispanic outreach director is now a Democrat.

Pablo Pantoja said Tuesday he switched parties because of a "culture of intolerance" among Republicans. He said his decision wasn't directed at the RNC, which he left months ago.

Pantoja said the tone of the debate on immigration issues, along with other instances in which Republicans have made derogatory remarks about minorities, built to the point where he felt more comfortable as a Democrat.

The final straw was the lack of strong condemnation of a conservative think tank's report that suggested immigrants have lower IQs than whites.

As a Puerto Rican, Pantoja was born an American citizen, but said he can associate with other Hispanics on immigration issues.

The RNC didn't immediately return a request for comment.

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