(CNN) - Sen. John McCain used Cinco de Mayo as a launching pad for a new Spanish-language Web site on Monday, and emphasized his stance on immigration and border security, hoping to attract Hispanic voters, a demographic which has become more important this election cycle.
The presumptive Republican nominee, who represents a border state with a large Latino population, stressed the importance of securing the borders for the sake of national security, a priority he said Hispanics agree with, but he admitted the tone of debate has “harmed” the GOP’s image with Hispanic voters.
“I think the tenor of the debate has harmed our image amongst Hispanics, [but] I believe the majority of Hispanics share our view that the border must be secured and the border must be secured first,” The Arizona senator said.
McCain, who came under attack last year from some conservatives for his support of a bipartisan immigration bill, empathized with Hispanics who he said have often been mistreated.
McCain underscored his view that those who came to the U.S. legally take precedence over those who entered the country illegally. "That still means that we can address it in a humane and compassionate fashion, understanding families, understanding all the aspects that affect the lives of all human beings.”
McCain also pledged to attend the National Council of La Raza's convention in July, the largest national Hispanic civil rights organization which seeks to improve opportunities for Hispanic-Americans.
Asked if he would face criticism from his more conservative backers, McCain stressed his party is all encompassing.
“My party reaches out to every citizen, every American who shares our views and our optimism and our belief in the principles of this great nation,” McCain said. “The job I have is to reunite America, to make sure that people know that I will be the president of all the people whether they vote for me or not.”