Mitt Romney’s attempt to simultaneously run very different campaigns in English in South Carolina and in Spanish in Florida has not proceeded as planned. In the past several days, both La Opinión and Jorge Ramos – the nation’s largest Spanish language daily newspaper and most influential Spanish language political journalist, respectively – have called out the Romney campaign’s two states, two languages, two faced effort. As these commentators and others have highlighted, there is a likely political toll to Romney’s attempts to highlight his hardline immigration bona fides to South Carolina primary voters while ignoring immigration issues in his direct outreach to Cuban-American voters in Florida.
La Opinión, the nation’s largest Spanish-language daily newspaper, editorialized earlier this week:
“The Republican primary in South Carolina has turned into a race among the presidential hopefuls to show who is tougher on the undocumented, leading them to take positions that could hurt their chances in the general election when they will need a large percent of Latino voters in order to beat President Obama…Romney’s strategy to win the conservative vote is short-sighted and myopic. Immigration isn’t only a legal issue as suggested by Arpaio and Kobach. It is about people, something deeply felt and recognized within the Latino community. Romney’s insensitivity, now also characterized by his repeated condemnation of the federal DREAM Act, and his new ally’s aggressiveness towards immigrants can cost the Republicans in the November election unless they are able to re-position themselves ideologically in order to get more than a third of the Latino vote, which they needed to win.”
Similarly, Jorge Ramos, the Univisión anchor who is one of the most influential figures on Latino political issues to millions of Spanish-speaking voters throughout the country, wrote in a new La Opinión column titled “Politics: The love affair is over” (translated into English by America’s Voice),
“For us Latinos, immigration is not an abstract question. We all know, live and interact daily with undocumented immigrants. They are our friends, our neighbors and our co-workers; they are our uncles and partners, they go to school with our children. We love them and they love us. That’s why attacking them is tantamount to attacking us. And that’s exactly what Republican candidates have done: attack the undocumented. This is synonymous with attacking (and not understanding) the Latino community in general… It would have been enough to soften their immigration postures a little – for example, by offering legal residency without citizenship – and emphasize that they share certain values with Latinos, like opposition to abortion, the importance of the traditional family, and suspicion of big government. But they’re not doing it. Republicans have ended the love affair with Latinos. And if they don’t fall back in love quickly, they’ll lose the next presidential election.
Perhaps Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employee International Union (SEIU), best captured the illogical nature of Romney’s approach when he said on a press call earlier this week:
“Apparently, Mitt believes that because he is speaking in English, Latinos will not catch on to his real agenda. Unfortunately for Mitt, Latinos do speak English and he is not going to get away with talking out of both sides of his mouth.”