With Rick Santorum ending his presidential campaign, likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney has begun to shift his focus to President Obama and the general election while mending fences with voter groups that formed an unfavorable view of him during the primary season.
One of those groups is Latino voters, many of whom were put off by Romney’s hard line on immigration, which he pushed during the primary. Polls show Romney losing the Latino vote to Obama by over 40 percentage points, a margin that could doom his chances of beating the President in the fall.
Romney provided another indication Wednesday that his strategy on winning over Latinos is putting Obama on the defensive on key issues.
“They look at this President, and this president’s policies have failed them,” he told Fox News Wednesday during his first interview since Santorum dropped out. “Look at unemployment rates among Hispanics and other ethnics groups, they’ve really suffered.”
But the Obama campaign isn’t about to cede its strong advantage with Latinos. It took a preemptive shot at Romney after Santorum left the race Tuesday.
“He has promised to return to the same policies that created the economic crisis and has alienated women, middle class families, and Hispanic Americans,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement.
The President’s surrogates were also busy spreading the President’s economic platform in Spanish-language media, which includes tax hikes on millionaires.
But considering Romney begins the general election in such a deep hole with Latinos, he’ll have his work cut out for him. And then some.