Mitt Romney Tries to Make Up Ground to Obama with Hispanics

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 6, 2012 3:55 AM
Trailing President Barack Obama among Hispanic voters, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is looking to make up ground by focusing on the Democrat incumbent’s record on the economy.

Earlier this week, the Romney camp unveiled a Web video responding to an ad from the Obama campaign looking to reach out to Hispanic voters. The ad insists that Hispanics have been badly hurt by the administration’s policies.

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The Romney camp looked to hone in on that message on Tuesday.

“Candidate Obama promised to restore the American dream for millions of Hispanics,” said Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, on Tuesday. “But, nearly four years later, it’s clear President Obama hasn’t lived up to his promise. Millions of Hispanics remain unemployed and Hispanic-owned businesses are struggling under President Obama’s job-destroying policies. From day one of his presidency, Mitt Romney will enact policies that get our economy moving again for Hispanics and all Americans.”

Romney has major ground to make up with Hispanic voters. While George W. Bush carried 40 percent of Hispanics when he beat Democrat challenger John Kerry in 2004, Republican nominee John McCain did worse in 2008 when he took only 31 percent of them.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Telemundo poll of registered Hispanic voters, released at the end of May, showed that Obama held a large advantage over Romney with that portion of the electorate. The poll found Obama taking 61 percent of Hispanic voters while Romney trailed with 27 percent.

The poll showed Obama remained in solid shape with Hispanic voters, with 58 percent of them seeing him in a positive light while 23 percent had a negative view of him. Romney was upside down in the poll with 26 percent of those surveyed holding a positive view of him while 35 percent see him in a negative light.

While the 2010 Census found more than half of Hispanics living in three states -- California, Florida and Texas -- it also showed they make up high percentages of the populations of key battleground states. Hispanics make up 16 percent of the nation’s population, but that percentage grows higher in nine states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas.

Some of those states appear solidly behind candidates already: California, New York and New Jersey are expected to be in Obama’s column while Romney is expected to carry Texas in November.

But five of those states are tossups. With 4.2 million Hispanics in Florida, the largest battleground state with 29 Electoral College votes at stake, the campaigns will be targeting them in the Sunshine State. New Mexico has the largest percentage of Hispanics in the nation -- 46 percent -- and Romney is looking to carry the state in November. He is also looking to take Colorado out of Obama’s column. The Obama team has made no secret of their desire to pick up Arizona, a traditional Republican state that could be competitive in November.

Two names garnering buzz to wind up as Romney’s running mate are Hispanics from those swing states -- U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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