Published: Jan 13, 2011 8:30 PM EST
Updated: Jan 13, 2011 5:30 PM EST

MIAMI (AP) - A Republican group that includes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will use a conference Thursday to kick off its efforts to improve the party's outreach to Hispanic voters, many of whom have been critical of some GOP candidates' harsh rhetoric on illegal immigration.

The new Hispanic Action Network is part of a growing number of Republican organizations reaching out to Hispanics in advance of next year's presidential election - and it has powerful support.

The group is backed by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, whose American Action Network funneled more than $30 million in campaign
funds to Republicans in about 30 congressional races last year.

Republicans don't need to win a majority of Hispanic votes. But with the Latino population growing in swing states such as Nevada, Colorado and Florida, Republicans need to chip away at Hispanics' overall 2-1 preference for Democrats.