With only one more primary to go (in the land of the Mormons), Mitt Romney has turned his attention to Texas, the General Election, and Latinos.
As the votes were still being cast in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota on Tuesday, Romney campaigned before a group of Texans at the headquarters of the largest Hispanic office supply company in the nation.
"This Obama economy has been hard particularly on Hispanic businesses and Hispanic-Americans," he said during the campaign stop at Southwest Office Systems in Fort Worth. "I don't know if you've seen the numbers recently, but did you know that the rate of unemployment among Hispanic-Americans rose last month to 11 percent. And that the people in this country that are poor, living in poverty, one out of three are Hispanic-American."
Unsurprisingly, there was no mention of "self- deportation" or vetoing the DREAM Act. No, there was not a word to be heard of the things he and the other Republican candidates spewed during the primary race. He didn't remind folks in the Lone Star State about how he had called undocumented immigrants "illegals" and thrashed their governor, then-candidate Rick Perry, for supporting in-state tuition for those immigrants' children.
"You put in place a magnet to draw illegals into the state, which was giving $100,000 of tuition credit to illegals that come into this country," Romney said then.
(Note to Romney campaign: Most Hispanics find the word "illegals" offensive. See more on that here.)
None of that now. Now Romney is sticking to his script: the economy stinks. It's especially bad for Latinos.
(Note to Romney campaign: No, duh! That's ancient history. Minorities always have higher unemployment in the United States. It may have something to do with people thinking of them as "illegals" or second-class citizens.)
But the bad economy script is a good one. Things do stink.
Tuesday Romney's folks ramped it up a notch. They released a hard-hitting ad on the campaign website called "Dismal," aimed at Latino voters. It's mostly in English, with a snippet in Spanish stolen from an Obama campaign ad, and it slams the president over job statistics that show exactly how bad the recession has been for Hispanics.
The numbers are a little out of context, sure. That's what campaign "spin" is all about. But there's no denying that the unemployment rate rose again to 11 percent among Latinos last month. Or that the poverty rate is unacceptably high among Hispanics.
Still, having stated those facts, it seems hard to understand how Romney and the Republicans plan to help. They want to cut unemployment benefits, reduce food stamps and cut Medicare that helps the poor; allow college loan rates to double, which would make getting an education and working their way out of poverty more difficult (They did propose keeping the rates the same, if Democrats agreed to cut funds for health programs that help the poor.); and dismantle the Affordable Health Care Act which would provide access to health insurance for everyone, including the roughly one out of three Latinos who have none now.
(Note to Romney campaign: You might want to stop bashing "Obamacare" around Hispanics, and promising to get rid of it like you did in your "Dia Uno" ad. Polls repeatedly put Latino support for the Affordable Care Act at over 50 percent, with fewer than 30 percent opposed.)
So, Mitt may be right to stick to the campaign's bad economy script. But he shouldn't be too surprised if Obama fires back with the one he promised way back in November, in a meeting in the White House with Hispanic media.
"We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim," Obama said then. "We won't even comment on them, we'll just run those in a loop on Univision and Telemundo, and people can make up their own minds."
Source: Terra/Carlos Harrison