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Hispanic Groups Criticize Ad Guru for Calling Rubio 'Coconut'

MIAMI, Fla. -- Two Hispanic organizations are demanding a CNBC contributor and advertising guru apologize for a "racial smear" against Florida Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio.

The non-profit conservative-leaning Hispanic Leadership Fund called Donny Deutsch's use of the term "coconut" to describe Rubio "disgusting racism."

"We call on every Hispanic organization in the country to forcibly denounce Donny Deutsch's despicable racial smear. This kind of vile attack has no place in 21st century America. If Deutsch has any sense of decency he will apologize profusely to all American Hispanics," Hispanic Leadership Fund President Mario H. Lopez said in a statement.

Deutsch entered into the controversy earlier this week when he described Rubio, a Cuban-American, as a "coconut," a term that is considered a racially-derogatory term by some Latino activist groups.

The moniker implies that a Hispanic is a sell-out, or brown on the outside but white on the inside.

Deutsch made the remarks during a TV segment on HLN's Joy Behar Show in which he was discussing the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement. 

After calling Rubio a "coconut," Behar said she didn't know who Rubio is. Deutsch replied: "Marco Rubio. He's running against Charlie Crist, who I think has done a great job. And (Rubio) is the new great, you know, hope down there."

Deutsch replied on his Twitter account Tuesday night that he was unaware it was a racially-insensitive term.

"I said 'coconut' meaning simple, goofy, bananas," Deustch tweeted. "Wasn't even aware it could be a racially charged word."

The nation's largest organization of elected Latino leaders also weighed in on Deutsch's remarks

"We should never resort to name calling. We can have genuine disagreements in an atmosphere of mutual respect without that kind of behavior," said Arturo Vargas executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, which represents more than 6,000 Latino elected officials.

"Name calling must never happen," Vargas said.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos told Fox News that Rubio "is running a serious campaign about issues and ideas, not shameless attacks and name-calling.

We hope anyone involved in this race or following it with interest follows Marco's example by engaging in a respectful, issues-based debate about Florida's and our nation's future," Burgos said.