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Page last updated at 05:22 GMT, Saturday, 27 September 2008 06:22 UK

Republican quits in Hispanic row

Fernando de Baca
Mr de Baca said he was referring to the older generation of Hispanics

A Republican official in the US has resigned over comments he made to the BBC that "Hispanics consider themselves above blacks".

Fernando de Baca, the chairman of the Republican Party in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, also said Hispanics "won't vote for a black president".

Mr de Baca spoke last week but resisted calls from his own party to resign, saying he was quoted out of context.

He said he decided to step down because of the "media circus" that developed.

Mr de Baca had been approached by the BBC's Jon Kelly for comments on the presidential election campaign at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque, part of Bernalillo County.

He was explaining why he thought John McCain would do well in the state, which has large population of Hispanics.

"The truth is that Hispanics came here as conquerors. African-Americans came here as slaves."

He said the Latino emphasis on hard work and family values and the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion made the community naturally conservative.

The remarks appeared on the BBC News website on its Talking America blog.

After calls grew for his resignation, he said the comments were taken out of context and that he was referring to views held by the older generation of Hispanics.

"Snippets were used to try and embarrass me," Mr de Baca, 70, told the Associated Press (AP) news agency.

He said a "media circus" had developed that was obscuring the election issues.

"It's time to step aside and let the candidates and the political races that are so important to this country and democracy be placed in focus," he told AP.


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