Election 2012: Mitt Romney’s Latino Problem?

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Mitt Romney’s problem may not be the strong challenge to his “inevitable” GOP Presidential nomination Rick Santorum is presenting.  The former Senator from Pennsylvania swept the Mississippi and Alabama primaries, providing proof that southern Evangelical voters don’t believe Romney is conservative enough.  “We did it again!,” triumphantly declared Santorum to cheers on Tuesday night.

Election 2012: Based On His Record, Will You Vote For Mitt Romney

The same day Romney lost in the south, he won the caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa, cementing his delegate count lead.  Currently, the former Massachusetts governor has nearly double Santorum’s delegates--494 to 251.  With the Republican Presidential nominee the first to reach 1,144 delegates, Romney has the clear advantage.  But rivals Santorum, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul show no signs of giving up, raising questions--and fears among the GOP establishment--that this fight could go straight to the Republican National Convention to be held at the end of August in Tampa, Florida.

UPDATE: Mitt Romney Clarifies 'Very Poor' Comment

Which leads us to Mitt’s Latino problem.  Romney campaign ads have attacked Santorum for putting Sonia Sotomayor on the “path to the Supreme Court” when he voted in 1998 for her appointment to New York’s U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Second Circuit.

She is the first Hispanic to serve on the nation’s highest court and is well-respected by Latinos for her work ethic, judicial record including her 1995 decision that ended the strike that “saved” baseball, her lift-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps success story, even inspired me to launch my politics and civic engagement blog The Wise Latina Club.

Sotomayor is the first Hispanic to serve on the nation’s highest court and is well-respected by Latinos for her work ethic, judicial record including her 1995 decision that ended the strike that “saved” baseball, her lift-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps success story, even inspired me to launch my politics and civic engagement blog The Wise Latina Club.

These ads have many Puerto Ricans furious with Romney--not good ahead of March 18th’s Republican caucus in La isla del encanto.  In a smart Op-Ed in South Florida’s Sun Sentinel, Gretchen Sierra-Zurita, the Project Director of Media Diversity Initiatives at the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, reveals these attacks against Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will hurt him in a crucial battleground state come the general election.

Writes Sierra-Zurita, “...these attack ads could be used to do the most harm in Florida which has the second highest concentration of Puerto Ricans after New York and whose influence is growing.  Of the 2.1 million eligible Hispanic voters in Florida, 28 percent are Puerto Rican versus the 32 percent that are Cuban-American.  While Florida's Puerto Ricans lean politically left, they are not single party voters, having voted for Obama in 2008 and for Rubio in 2010.”

Election 2012: The Latino Vote

Add this: although Romney has garnered the endorsements of prominent Cuban-American politicians including Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Díaz-Balart brothers, he isn’t popular with the sizable Mexican-American community which makes up nearly 65% of the 50 million U.S. Latinos, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.  Any Romney economic and job creation strengths are eclipsed by his support of “self-deportation” and opposition to the DREAM Act--positions that are not in synch with most Latino voters.

If Mitt Romney continues with a strategy that ignores, even offends many Hispanics, he may mathematically win the Republican nomination in August.  But with more Latinos voting in the general election than the primaries, he will have just over two months from the convention to clear the significant obstacles, make that obstáculos on his road to the White House.

What are your thoughts on Mitt Romney's attack on Sonia Sotomayor?

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