Republicans Soften on Anti-illegal Immigration

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) _ The Republican presidential candidates who are seeking to embrace Hispanics participated in an unusual Spanish-language debate.

They strove to mark common ground with a growing voter block while softening the anti-illegal immigration rhetoric that has marked past encounters.

The candidates avoided the harsh exchanges and name-calling of their most recent debate last night, while most emphasized the need for border security and an end to illegal immigration.

The polite debate came less than four weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

Only John McCain warned that harsh immigration rhetoric voiced by some Republicans has driven Hispanics away from the party. The Arizona senator has stood apart from most of his Republican rivals because he supports changing immigration laws and creating a path for citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The Spanish-language television network Univision and the University of Miami hosted the debate. Questions and answers were translated.

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