Earlier this year in an interview with Univision, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney talked about how he felt it would be "disingenuous" of him to claim Mexican heritage, although his father and grandfather were born in Mexico as descendants of Mormons who migrated from the United States. But as polls show how badly Romney needs Latino voter support, no more.
In a new Spanish-language TV ad addressing immigration, his son Craig Romney, a fluent Spanish speaker, talks about how his father values "that we are a nation of immigrants" and says: "My grandfather George was born in Mexico."
It's not the proverbial hair net that comic George Lopez invoked during his recent standup tirade, in which he accused Romney of not wanting to admit to being Latino. But it's significant.
From a transcript of the Univision interview in January, here’s how Mitt Romney explained his position on his ethnic identity:
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Addressing whether he would do away with President Obama's new plan to grant temporary legal status to some undocumented young people who came to the United States as minors, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said today at a Latino elected leaders' conference:
The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President's temporary measure.
As President, I won’t settle for a stop-gap measure. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution. I will prioritize measures that strengthen legal immigration and make it easier. And I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner.
Now the question is what kind of long-term solution or solutions Romney is talking about. His statement was made
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Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, left, with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania, April 23, 2012
Now that Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has said that Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is being vetted as a potential vice-presidential running mate pick, along with others, the debate over whether or not Rubio can help steer much-needed Latino voters toward Romney has resurfaced.
There's nothing set in stone, but Romney confirmed the vetting after ABC News reported that Rubio wasn't a contender, a story Romney denied. Rubio, who earlier this year said he wasn't interested, is keeping mum on the whole thing. Not that it's been an easy week for him, but that's another story.
Interestingly, on Monday, a Christian Science Monitor headline asked, "Did Obama's immigration move make Marco Rubio a more likely veep pick?" The move referred to, of course, is President Obama's announcement last Friday that he would not seek to deport some young undocumented immigrants, allowing them instead to apply for temporary legal status and work permits. Obama's plan more or less rendered moot a yet-to-be-filed proposal from Rubio that promised similar relief for undocumented youths attending college or joining the military. From the Monitor piece:
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President Barack Obama at a campaign event in Redwood City, Calif., May 23, 2012
A conservative group is capitalizing on President Obama's less-than-popular record on immigration as a way to appeal to Latino voters, while Republican candidate-apparent Mitt Romney is talking up the economy as an alternate way of reaching out to Latinos. But in spite of all this, a new poll suggests that Romney still has much ground to cover.
Released by NBC, the Wall Street Journal and Telemundo, the poll shows 61 percent of 300 Latino adults surveyed earlier this month supporting Obama for reelection, versus 27 percent who support Romney. Among other things, a majority of respondents gave Obama the thumbs-up for his handling of the economy. And as for his recently-stated position in support of same-sex marriage, that didn't appear to make much of a difference.
A few highlighted questions and results from the poll:
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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, left, with Univision's Jorge Ramos in a "Meet the Candidate" forum in Miami, January 25, 2012
In the day since it was uttered, news reports have alternately called a Republican National Committee staffer's remark to reporters yesterday about Mitt Romney "still deciding what his position on immigration is,” a flub, a gaffe, a snag, and a disaster.
The latter may be an overstatement, but it still wasn't pretty. Bettina Inclán, who earlier this year became the RNC's Hispanic Outreach Director, told reporters at a Washington, D.C. press event when asked a question about Romney and immigration that "I think, as a candidate, to my understanding, that he’s still deciding what his position on immigration is."
An RNC spokeswoman quickly stepped in to correct her, and Inclán later tweeted that she "misspoke," saying GOP presidential candidate Romney's position is clear.
Inclán's gaffe, seized upon by reporters and by the Obama administration, was read by some as a slip revealing Romney's back-and-forth on immigration as he's tried to appeal to both immigration hardliners and Latino voters. But voices on both sides have argued that his position has been clear enough, whether one likes it or not.