Harry Reid is a despicable jerk and his retirement from the Senate can't come quickly enough. But I'm not sure that the Republican/conservative response to Reid's "I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican" comment has been as effective as it might be. The main Republican/conservative reaction seems to be spluttering outrage and looking around for right-leaning Latinos who will say that gosh no, it is totally okay for Hispanics to be Republican. This approach might work okay with white swing voters who don't like racialist politics. It isn't clear to me why politically unaligned Latinos should care that Reid's comment hurt conservative feelings or care that some activist that 99.9% of Americans never heard of thinks the GOP is A OK for Latinos. Reid's comment was in the context of an argument. He was arguing that all Latinos had certain overriding common interests that were represented by the Democrats and opposed by the Republicans. We can expect to see this argument from the Democrats in future campaigns (though perhaps not made with such brazen malice) and this argument (and it is a terrible argument) will have to be answered. It will have to be answered with an explanation as to why it is wrong in its presumptions that all Latinos have the same voting interests, but just as importantly, it will have to be answered by showing how Republicans offer (most) Latinos a better deal on both principle and policy. Reid's comment is a preview of Democratic attempts to make voting for Democrats an integral part of Latino political identity so that non-Democratic Latinos become utterly marginal. Just calling moral fouls when Democrats use this tactic won't be good enough.
That doesn't mean conservatives shouldn't be outraged or express outrage. Marco Rubio had the best reaction so far. The outrage at Reid's comment should be expressed within an answer about why Latinos (and people of every other racial and ethnic group) should vote Republican. The substance of the answer makes contempt for Reid's presumption more meaningful. Rubio hit all the right themes of free enterprise, sacrifice, family, work and intergenerational upward mobility but he was still only halfway there. The problem is that these themes become easily tuned out sloganeering if they are not combined with specific policies that can plausibly offer tangible outcomes.
A better answer to Reid would be that Latino (and non-Latino) voters should vote Republican because of tax policies that will decrease unemployment and make it easier for working parents to raise their children. A better answer would include arguing for health care reforms that will improve the quality and security of care while increasing take home pay. A better answer would include arguing that Republicans won't use limited and hard earned tax payer dollars to fund abortions. And then it would make sense to conclude that the reason Harry Reid doesn't know why any Latinos would vote Republican is because he is an arrogant and prejudiced Washington hack who thinks he is entitled to people's votes based on their surname. It also wouldn't hurt to put this message in Spanish language ads.
This is much bigger than a Nevada Senate race. I want Reid gone, but I'm not sure Nevada Republicans have a Senate candidate that can articulate and defend a relevant agenda in English, never mind Spanish language media. Angle might win anyway based on the horrible condition of the Nevada labor market, but that won't stop Democrats from trying to consolidate the Latino vote based on racialist arguments. This is a good moment for Republicans to work out their counterarguments (and policies) so as to block the Democrats from slowly gaining overwhelming margins among a large fraction of the voting population.