Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has caught Latino voters’ attention in the presidential run. Traditionally, the Latino vote favors the Democratic candidates who represent immigration-friendly agendas and community support. In 2008, according to a CNN poll, Obama gained 67% of the Latino vote leaving Senator McCain with 31% of Latino support. Republican candidate Mitt Romney prioritized reaching out to Latinos during his campaign especially in swing states like Colorado, Nevada, and Florida.
Romney has strong advocates who heavily rallied for him among Latinos, including his own son Craig and Florida’s Republican Senator, Marco Rubio. Craig Romney completed his Mormon missionary trip in Chile where he learned Spanish. Throughout September and October the candidates’ bilingual son went door-to-door campaigning in Latino neighborhoods like Brighton, Colorado. Residents received Craig’s outreach with delight, seeing his visit as a gesture of recognition from Mitt Romney on Latino voters’ importance.
Senator Marco Rubio, a first generation Cuban-American, has also been instrumental for Romney in softening his image among Latinos. Most registered Latinos are not Republicans (with Cubans as the biggest exception), but Rubio keeps peace with Latinos as a DREAM ACT advocate. The Romney-Rubio bond, despite Rubio not being the Republican VP choice, has made many Latinos take a second look at the former Governor.
Another major factor helping Romney is his fresh slate with the community. Latinos’ biggest criticism of President Obama when evaluating his time in the White House is his broken promises to the community. Latinos feel Obama did not prioritize immigration issues as he had promised during his 2008 campaign. In addition, during the summer months in 2012, deportation numbers peaked higher than ever before under the Obama administration. Romney reminded Latino voters about these two discrepancies from President Obama in his interview with Univision.
Both candidates were given the opportunity to address Latinos in the Spanish-speaking channel in September. Obama gave the network and hour interview and Romney thirty minutes. Nonetheless, Latino voters were able to learn more about Mitt Romney’s views toward the Latino community. When asked if he would deport the millions of undocumented youth the Obama administration has deferred from deportation he admitted not believing in massive deportation. For many the deferment program for undocumented youth was only a political scheme without a true solution to immigration. The community felt Romney was sincere about his motives towards improving the community. However, he did leave many unanswered question.
With a few hours left before Election Day both candidates continue to scramble attempting to reach Latino voters. Romney has not given up on Latino voters and he needs to hope enough of them have faith in him.