Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

How Mexican is Mitt? It's complicated (Audio)

Mitt Romney, March 2010
Mitt Romney, March 2010 Photo by Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

So just how Mexican is Mitt Romney? In terms of where the paternal side of his family comes from, no question about it, though it's complicated. Culturally, not so much.

It's long been reported, though not widely until recently, that Romney's Mormon ancestors crossed the border heading south from the U.S. in the late 1800s seeking religious freedom from American anti-polygamy laws. They settled in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, where Mitt's grandfather and father were born, and where descendants of the original Romney clan still live today.

Have Romney's Mexican roots won the GOP presidential front-runner the support of Latino voters? Another not-so-much, given his hardline stance on immigration, something on which even some conservative Latinos draw the line. However a Twitter meme, the parody @MexicanMitt, is winning followers left and right.

In a segment today on KPCC's Madeleine Brand Show, I explain Romney's roots (and yes, he can muster a bit of Spanish, as well as French), where he stands with Latinos (not well, though a recent ad attempts to court more conservative Cuban American voters in South Florida), the story his Mexican-born father and, last but not least, the popularity of his outrageous, lovable but occasionally profane Twitter alter ego. Be warned: The word "cabrones" is uttered on air.

Download the audio here.

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