and a scramble in the republican party, just as the gop is trying to reach out to the growing community of hispanics in america. For what happened, we'll turn to the new edition of the abc news team,... See More
and a scramble in the republican party, just as the gop is trying to reach out to the growing community of hispanics in america. For what happened, we'll turn to the new edition of the abc news team, who covered politics for years for "the new york times," abc's senior washington correspondent, jeff zeleny. Reporter: Senior republican officials tell abc news tonight that a racial slur from representative don young during a radio interview at home in alaska could alienate voters. My father had a ranch. We used to have 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. Reporter: The congressman's words reverberate across spanish-american television. The sharpest reaction came from republican leaders themselves. A sign of the offensive nature of the slur that refers to mexicans crossing the border. Speaker john boehner called the comments beneath the dignity of the office he holds. SENATOR john McCain tweeted that the remarks have no place in our party of the nation's discourt. The 79-year-old congressman apologized for the words tonight, saying there is no malice in my heart. Danny diaz, a republican strategist, says this kind of talk won't improve the party's image. Don yresents the past. There's a new breed of republican leaders that are in the house. Reporter: And republican advisers tell abc news tonight they worry that the racial slur from congressman young comes precisely at the wrong time. Just as republicans are trying to rebuild and rebrand their party.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.