Election 2012: Searching for Latino Voter Outreach at the GOP Convention

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Tropical Storm Isaac may have delayed the start of the Republican National Convention, but not arguably the biggest party in town which has three important action items on the agenda: officially nominating Mitt Romney – the GOP challenger to President Barack Obama. The second is firing up the base – the hardcore delegates who will deliver “votes” doing whatever it takes back home – going door to door or driving viejitos from their senior living homes to the polls. Thirdly, ratifying the platform a manifesto that isn’t binding, but is considered the party’s soul.  

And this is where I, an independent, female Hispanic voter, say, ¡momento!  

I am not the GOP’s target audience: a white, evangelical, very conservative, and older voter (according to polls). And although I understand that the campaign has to laser focus during the primaries and the convention, the closer we get to the general election, any outreach to others – undecided voters, independents, those from diverse ethnic backgrounds has largely been... 

[Insert the sound of crickets].

So consider this Election 2012 column a personals ad: “Looking for Latino voter outreach at the GOP convention.” 

Let me check out the party’s “profile” or the platform, beginning with reproductive rights, or lack thereof. While leaning more conservative, I wonder why the GOP fights to get “big government” out of my life (for example, with the President’s health care law), but has no problem conducting a vaginal probe if I sought an abortion in Virginia, according to legislation that was eventually defeated, but passed by the Republican legislature and supported by Governor Bob McDonnell. There’s also granting full rights to an unborn child, banning abortion under any circumstances. Period. The platform goes further to the right than Mitt Romney’s campaign, which grants exceptions in case of rape or if the mother’s life is in danger.

On gay marriage, there are no surprises with the expected calls to support the Defense of Marriage Act. I support civil unions for not only the “gays,” but also for the “straights.” I mean really, who doesn’t think that the most serious threat to the institution of marriage is coming more from our high divorce rate, symptomatic of a culture where everything is disposable – from trading in every two years a car that runs perfectly, to marriage, to employees?

Which leads me to the economy. I’ve gotten two invites to attend high profile sessions devoted to Hispanics. What’s on tap? Economic development in our communities, focusing on less government regulation and tax breaks, especially for small businesses. Smart move because several polls, including the most recent Latino Decisions/ImpreMedia weekly tracking survey of registered Latino voters, put the economy and jobs ahead of immigration.

But that brings us to the big Republican elefante in the room (and I’m not talking about the party’s symbol). With the exception of being open to a guest-worker program or requiring private employers to electronically verify workers’ status, the GOP’s immigration position is just plain mean:

Build a giant wall along the entire US-Mexico border!

Nix any path to citizenship!

Block funds to universities offering in-state tuition to undocumented students!

End all federal lawsuits against anti-illegal immigrant laws like Arizona’s SB1070! 

Remember Romney’s suggestion for undocumented immigrants to “self-deport”? It’s in there, codifying a suggestion into party policy. 

Why does the GOP not have one eye on the demographic data that confirms our country is becoming browner? Why is it not looking to grow the party by embracing diversity: ethnic and of moderate thought which Romney himself practiced while governor of Massachusetts? 

There is not one GOP but the Romney campaign is catering hand and foot to the far right. How about others: young, single college-educated women? How about Hispanics? How about independent voters who think, maybe I need to break up with this President and give the “alternative” a chance?

Viviana Hurtado, blogger-in-chief at The Wise Latina Club, is a Washington, DC-based Latina politics columnist. Read more of Viviana's political posts here.

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