UPDATE: Crist will speak at the Dem Convention.

The Beltway tongue-waggers are pooh-poohing  Republican former Florida governor Charlie Crist‘s endorsement of Barack Obama, but the accompanying message is clear — the grasp that the fringe has on the party is dooming the GOP. Crist:

[A]n element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they’ve proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims. The truth is that the party has failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve.

But now one of the party’s conservative shining lights (I’m sure the party leaders would much prefer Jeb Bush was at the top of the ticket), who’s usually diplomatic to a fault, is also sounding the alarm that the GOP’s tiny, tiny demographically populated pup tent is disastrous.

“This is going to be a close election, but long-term, conservative principles, if they’re to be successful and implemented, there has to be a concerted effort to reach out to a much broader audience than we do today,” Bush said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

On Sunday, the former Florida governor did not refer to the GOP’s need to appeal to any specific group, but said the party could find it seriously damaging if Republicans do not expand their base.

“I’m concerned about it over the long haul for sure,” Bush told “Meet The Press” host David Gregory. “Our demographics are changing and we have to change not necessarily our core beliefs, but how we — the tone of our message and the message and the intensity of it, for sure.”

There have been so many racial dog whistles tossed out by GOP luminaries that Chris Matthews this morning asked Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus about it, and mused whether the party believes it can’t win without playing the race card.

Matthews charged Republicans with injecting race into the campaign against President Barack Obama, criticizing Mitt Romney’s birth certificate joke from Friday and his welfare ads that many have debunked as misleading.

“It is an embarrassment to your party to play that card,” Matthews said of Romney’s joke, drawing an awkward, dismissive laugh from Priebus. “This stuff about getting rid of the work requirement for welfare is dishonest — everyone’s pointed out it’s dishonest.

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“And you are playing that little ethnic card there. You can play your games and giggle about it, but the fact is that your side is playing that card.

And the non-stop war on women by the GOP at this point is simply off the chain — from the complete female anatomy #FAIL by Rep. Todd Akin to the grotesque comment by Mittens ticket mate Paul Ryan that rape is merely another “method of conception” — it’s hard to believe it’s 2012.

And Latino voters? Well, the Romney/Ryan ticket and philosophy of the GOP signal that’s a demo they’ve given up on to shore up its wavering base of know-nothings and bigots. And it shows:

Soon-to-be official GOP nominee Mitt Romney faces a significant uphill climb with Latino voters, according to a weekly tracking poll released Monday, showing just how much he still has to prove this week at the Republican National Convention.

The tracking poll — the first of its kind from Latino Decisions and ImpreMedia this election cycle — found President Barack Obama at a 39-point lead over Romney, with 65 percent of Latino voters saying they would reelect the president over 26 percent who prefer Romney.