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November 02, 2012

How Low Can You Go? Latino Voters Are Not Amused!
Posted by The Editors

AAAA obamachavez_0This post is by Johanna Mendelson Forman, a Scholar-in-Residence at the American University School of International Service.

With the election just days away the Romney campaign has tried again to make a last ditch effort to attract Latino voters.  In Florida, one of the biggest prizes in electoral votes, Latino voters could not be fooled by an offensive Spanish-language ad portraying President Obama as soft on dictators.  The ad, which started running yesterday on TV, tries to tar the President with connections to Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, and Cuba’s aging dictator, Fidel Castro

Fortunately, the immediate reaction from Florida’s Latino voters has been one of disbelief that Republicans would stoop this low to try to garner their support.  How could a candidate that has spoken out against immigration reform, who has supported self-deportation as the only solution for illegal aliens, and who has been against in-state tuition for the children of the undocumented be taken seriously?  Invoking smear tactics about foreign leaders cannot overcome a campaign that has been anti-immigrant from the get go and downright insensitive to the diversity of our Hispanic heritage.  Just because Romney tries to underscores his Mexican roots does not a Latino make! Ads alone cannot seal the deal in any election, and Latinos in Florida do not like what they see at the top of the Republican ticket

Obama was right when he talked about Romney’s most recent acquired ailment– “Romnesia.”  Does Romney not remember that in 2008 Obama received 67% of the Latino vote in the Sunshine State, compared with 31% for Sen. John McCain?   Did his advisors not read the most recent report of the Pew Hispanic Center that clearly showed that Latinos favored Democrats to Republicans, by a wide margin of 61 percent to 10 percent?   But can you blame a guy from trying?  Latinos represent 13.5 percent of the state’s registered voters it is highly unlikely that at this late date the Romney camp can win hearts and minds by running a Spanish TV ad that is both outrageous in its twisting of words, and offensive in bringing attention to the likes of an autocratic populist like Venezuela’s President, Hugo Chavez.

The dated concept of a president being soft on communists or coddling autocrats should be a warning sign that a vote for Romney is a throwback to an era of U.S. Latin American relations that does not reflect the growing partnership that President Obama has with our neighbors, equal partnership that has been a cornerstone of his foreign policy to the region since he first spoke of it at the April 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago:

“To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements... Too often, an opportunity to build a fresh partnership of the Americas has been undermined by stale debates. And we've heard all these arguments before, these debates that would have us make a false choice between rigid, state-run economies or unbridled and unregulated capitalism; between blame for right-wing paramilitaries or left-wing insurgents; between sticking to inflexible policies with regard to Cuba or denying the full human rights that are owed to the Cuban people. I didn't come here to debate the past -- I came here to deal with the future I believe, that we must learn from history, but we can't be trapped by it. As neighbors, we have a responsibility to each other and to our citizens. And by working together, we can take important steps forward to advance prosperity and security and liberty. That is the 21st century agenda that we come together to enact. That's the new direction that we can pursue.”

These are the words of President Obama who has been attacked by Chavez and by Castro. This is the leadership we need to work with our friends and our enemies in the Americas. Trying to make Obama look soft on those who challenge democracy and freedom had better think twice. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and it sure looks like the Romney campaign could use a major cleaning job when it comes to its Spanish language advertising. This is what the Latino voters of Florida and the rest of our nation want to hear about the future, not some commie-baiting claptrap that panders to voter’s fears.


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