Mitt Romney and the Republican Party have no chance to win the November election if they continue to try to paint President Obama as “foreign,” effectively reminding Latino voters on a continual basis of the many occasions when Republicans have tried to make them feel like they aren’t really American.
That is the analysis of Democratic consultant Maria Cardona in a column on CNN.com. Cardona, former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee, is a first-generation immigrant born in Colombia who has closely observed over the years—sometimes with consternation—the ways that Republicans have worked to offend Latinos.
Cardona said she expected Romney to begin to find ways to court Latinos since analysts predict that he will need at least 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in order to beat Obama. But instead Cardona said he seems to be going in the other direction, increasingly using strident language when talking about Obama that is also offensive to Latinos—in the manner of Rep. Michele Bachmann.
“Romney is not making it easier for Latinos to support him,” Cardona writes. “In fact, the strategy will continue alienating this critical demographic group, along with independents and women.”
“Romney himself is using a version of the line when he says that Obama’s way of doing things seems ‘foreign,’” she writes. “To many voters, that is code for ‘un-American.’”
Cardona said that as a Democrat she is not complaining about Romney’s wrong-headed strategy because she thinks it’ll lead to Obama’s re-election, but as a political strategist she says Romney’s new tactic is “reckless and dangerous” for a party that needs to broaden its base of support to independents, women and especially Latinos in order to win.
“This kind of language will do the opposite,” she writes. “As an American Latina born in Colombia, I recoiled at this language, the same way I did in 2008 when Bachmann used it. It reminds me—and I suspect it reminds many other Latinos in this country—of the lengths to which many in this Republican Party have gone to marginalize those who represent the new and changing demographics in the United States.”
Cardona contrasts Romney’s new strategy with that of the Obama campaign, which is going overboard to reach out in many ways to Latinos, such as the conference call Cardona recently moderated between First Lady Michelle Obama and Latina moms from Mamiverse.com, a a website for bilingual/English-dominant Latina moms.
“It was a masterful political stroke by the Obama campaign,” she writes. “In half an hour, through this historic live chat, they demonstrated they understood just how important the voices of Latina mothers were going to be this election cycle and how critical that would be to Obama’s re-election in this very tight race.
“Obama won 67% of the Latino vote in 2008. A few months ago, I would have said it would be a big challenge for him to repeat those numbers, especially given some disappointment among Latinos about the president’s not being able to deliver on immigration reform, as well as his record on deportations. But he is now on track to gain the same amount, if not more, of the Latino vote.”