Now it’s time for the Latinos. President Barack Obama, his lead disappearing faster than a soap bubble in a hurricane, is blatantly declaring his win depends on Hispanics.
Mitt Romney, with barely any chance of even coming close to Sen. John McCain’s abysmal 2008 numbers, is at least counting on Latinos to help him win Florida. McCain won 31 percent of the Hispanic vote when he ran against Obama. The latest polls show Romney lucky if he can draw much more than 20-something percent.
As the author of the latest Latino Decisions poll put it:
“The Romney campaign’s stated goal of capturing a full 38% of the Latino vote seems about as far from reach at this point as it has ever been,” Latino Decision’s Gabriel Sanchez wrote. His reasoning is simple. “Over the past few weeks the President’s lead has hovered at around 74% to 26% (and very likely no worse than 70% to 30%).”
The 38 percent he’s referring to comes from a statement by Jose Fuentes, Puerto Rico’s former attorney general and co-chariman of Romney’s leadership team.
“Our goal is to do better than four years ago and the McCain campaign did — our goal is to hit 38 percent with the Hispanic vote,” he said, back in August. “That’s our goal. That’s our national average.”
He’s got high hopes, no doubt. Even back then when he said it and Romney was peaking at close to 30 percent among Hispanics.
But his statement is evidence of how important the Hispanic vote is.
The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll puts Obama more than 50 percentage points ahead of Romney. If Latinos turn out in large numbers, they could bring Obama victories in multiple key swing states, including Florida, Nevada, Virginia and Iowa.
Obama discussed it in what began as an off-the-record discussion with the Des Moines Register’s editorial board.
“Since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt,” said Tuesday. “Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community.”
The president pointed out what repeated surveys have shown, and what Florida Sen. Marco Rubio stepped in to combat – that Republican resistance to comprehensive immigration reform, and Romney’s “self-deportation” policy proposal, has decimated Latino support for the GOP from the George W. Bush high.
“This is a relatively new phenomenon,” Obama said. “George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America. And so I am fairly confident that they’re going to have a deep interest in getting that (comprehensive immigration reform) done. And I want to get it done because it’s the right thing to do and I’ve cared about this ever since I ran back in 2008.”
Obama’s campaign has made a concerted effort to woo Hispanics throughout the campaign, outspending Romney with Spanish-language ads throughout the summer.
In the latest TV spot, First Lady Michelle Obama talks to the “Spanish Oprah,” Cristina Saralegui, about the importance of the Hispanic vote.
“So much is at stake,” the first lady says, and goes on to list immigration, health care and education. “I could go on and on and on. But that’s why the vote is critical.”
The First Lady speaks English. But her husband ends the commercial in nearly flawless Spanish, “Soy Barack Obama y apruebo este mensaje.”
But Romney has fought back. Bilingual phone banks run by his campaign and the Republican National Committee had made more than 10 million contacts by mid-August.
Now, though, with the race tightened to a neck-and-neck sprint for the finish, the Hispanic vote became all the more important. There’s enough votes there in enough key states to decide the winner – if they vote.