By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – The Republican National Committee is rolling out a $250,000 ad buy during next week’s presidential debate that features a man from Pueblo.

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Mario Ruiz, whose parents emigrated from Mexico, is one of five non-traditional Republicans in the ads that counter the image of the GOP as the party of “old white men.”

After Mitt Romney lost the Asian, African American and Latino vote by a landslide in 2012, the RNC began a major outreach campaign. It’s using the ads to recruit community activists in areas like Pueblo where Republicans have cut into Democratic margins in recent elections.

“We know that the effort to take back the White House is not going to be here in Washington but rather in Colorado and Pueblo County with stories like Mario talking to their communities and getting them involved,” said Ruth Guerra with the RNC.

She says the ads are aimed at enlisting more people like Ruiz to join the Republican Leadership Initiative — a political boot camp of sorts — that includes six weeks of training.

“These people learn the nuts and bolts of campaigning. They learn how to register new voters, how to organize and host meetings to get more people involved in the political process,” Guerra said.

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The RNC says it will have its biggest ground game in Colorado history next year.

“Since 2013, we’ve had a permanent field operation in states like Colorado, engaging the Hispanic community on a daily basis. We know we can’t parachute in 3 to 6 months before the election and ask the Hispanic community for their vote,” Guerra said.

But veteran Republican analyst Dick Wadhams — a former chair of the Colorado Republican Party — says none of the efforts will matter if Donald Trump is the nominee.

CBS4's Shaun Boyd interviews Dick Wadhams (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd interviews Dick Wadhams (credit: CBS)

“As good of a job as the party is doing right now trying to attract non-traditional voters to the Republican Party, ultimately what will define our success will be the candidates that we nominate,” Wadhams said. “The big challenge for Republicans is if we nominate a candidate who has made as many hostile comments about so many voter groups — women, minorities, the disabled — like Donald Trump. We cannot appeal to those voter groups.”

He says the party will forfeit a pivotal opportunity. Its candidates this year reflect the diversity of the electorate.

“This nomination process could not only ensure our victory in November, it could ensure our defeat as well,” Wadhams said.

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Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.