A Latino GOP group is demanding a White House apology for a tweet by an Obama 2012 official that it says is offensive to Latinos.

The Hispanic Leadership Network Executive Director Jennifer Sevilla Korn issued a statement Thursday taking issue with Obama 2012 Campaign Manager Jim Messina's tweet Wednesday that, referring to a Washington Post article, said: "Line of the day from WAPO’s Dana Milbank: 'The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos.’"

The group announced the launching of a petition to push for the apology and said that it hoped the incident would prompt Republicans to focus more on Latinos.

"The affiliate of the American Action Network wants to use the episode to galvanize support for their effort to get the GOP to engage more on Latino issues," the Hispanic Leadership Network statement said. "Arguing that Democrats take Hispanics for granted, they’re putting a few thousand dollars behind a Facebook and Google ad campaign to get signatures for the petition – available in both English and Spanish."

On Wednesday, after the GOP criticism on the Internet over his tweet, Messina tweeted: "Tweeting someone else’s words caused a stir, but the GOP is on the wrong side of every Hispanic voter priority.”

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The Republican and Democratic parties have been courting voters for the 2012 presidential election.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, wrote in The Washington Post: "In the 15 states that are likely to decide who controls the White House and the Senate in 2013, Hispanic voters will represent the margin of victory."

The 2010 Census showed that the Hispanic population grew to 50.5 million in 2010 from 35.3 million in 2000. About 21 million are eligible to vote.

Latinos tend to lean Democrat, but they've also showed that they will back an appealing Republican candidate. A Pew survey released last month showed that 68 percent of Latinos supported Obama over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

That prompted the Obama campaign camp to note in a memo: “When it comes to the November election, President Obama may receive the highest percentage of the Hispanic vote ever --higher than the 73 percent that Bill Clinton got in his 1996 reelection.”

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Republicans shot back, saying the president has had four years to improve the plight of Latinos – yet has failed to stimulate the economy or create jobs. They called the memo a “desperate attempt” by the campaign to win Latino support.

Korn's statement said: "The fact that the campaign manager of President Obama’s reelection campaign thinks it’s appropriate to disseminate insulting jokes about the Hispanic community is a perfect example of the kind of empty rhetoric that characterizes this White House’s so-called outreach to Latinos."

"We demand that Mr. Messina immediately apologize and we ask that President Obama disavow his campaign manager’s ridiculous statement," she said. "Liberals are always trying to put Hispanics in a box. In typical fashion, when liberals cannot speak substantively to the top issues facing our community, they resort to name calling."

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