Latino vote up for grabs, but GOP rhetoric may cost votes

2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Pic by Gage Skidmore, via Flickr)

Latino entrepreneurs, conservative policy groups and media outlets continue to closely track what GOP 2012 presidential candidates are saying about issues important to Hispanic voters.

Liliana Gil of XL Alliance, a Hispanic marketing firm, writes on the Huffington Post:

With close to 3 million Hispanic owned businesses and 62% of all Latinos being U.S. born, the issues that matter most may be working to the [Republican] party’s benefit given the economic circumstances and overall frustration with the current administration.

So often, political candidates miss the mark when speaking to Hispanic voters, focusing the conversation on issues that, while important in the big picture (like immigration reform), miss the mark on what matters most with this increasingly growing voter base – the economy. Now more than ever the Latino vote is up for grabs in 2012, and it’s up to the parties to focus on reaching out with the proper relevancy and respect the community deserves.

A Latino Decisions August poll indicates that “the most recent poll of Latino voters reveals a continuing political problem for President Barack Obama, which he must address if he wants to get re-elected next year.”

Latino Decisions, which conducts research on and polls of the Latino electorate adds: “Currently, only 38% of Latino voters are certain they will vote for the president next year. This number was 43% in February, when impreMedia/Latino Decisions did a similar poll, and it had increased to 49% in June after the capture of Osama bin Laden and Obama’s speech in El Paso reaffirming his support on immigration.”

Al Punto, a Spanish-language TV news show, recently hosted journalists Julia Preston and Anne Hoyt, who pointed out that Sarah Palin’s announcement that she will not run in 2012 favors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, and that despite his current lead and his conservative credentials, Herman Cain will have trouble raising the necessary campaign funds.

Preston pointed out that GOP campaigns have spoken on issues important to Latino voters, adding that Romney has taken “a position against the DREAM Act and other issues important for Latinos.”

Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, “an effort by conservative leaders and organizations from across America to advance the cause of just immigration reform,” said this week:

The organization believes that conservatives must recognize the potential harm negative statements against immigrants, and Hispanics in particular, could have toward chances for Republican victories in several key state elections. Without Hispanic support, the Republican Party will face tough battles in the 2012 elections and beyond. We believe that now is not the time to make polarizing statements against this important and rapidly growing electorate.

“We need to find a speedy way to bring a solution” to the lives of immigrants, said Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform cofounder Dr. Juan Hernandez during a Thursday conference call. Hernandez said that Republican candidates support immigration reform but with different definitions.

Dr. Richard Land — president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission — said during the call that “immigration reform is a crisis.”

“I see the passage of restrictive laws by states as something above their pay grade,” he said, adding that immigration reform has to happen at the federal level.

Liberty Counsel founder Dr. Mathew Staver said, “We need to secure the borders, enforce the law and allow the millions living in the shadows a path to the American Dream.”

Staver, Land and Hernandez voiced their support for Gov. Rick Perry’s measures to support in-state college tuition for undocumented students brought here by their parents and educated in Texas.

Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said that with 50 million Hispanics now living in America, “from a political standpoint it will be difficult for Republicans to win the White House without reaching out to hispanic voters.”

Rodriguez said they will issue a pledge “calling on Republican presidential hopefuls to reject anti-immigrant rhetoric,” adding that it is important to do “away with heavily damaging rhetoric that continues to damage our communities,” which includes blaming immigrants for the economic crisis and higher crime rates.

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