Democrat compares Romney’s “Latino problem” to alcoholism
Rep. Xavier Becerra delivered a blistering indictment of Mitt Romney’s efforts to appeal to Latinos.
By JORDAN FABIAN
A leading surrogate for President Obama’s reelection campaign on Friday compared Mitt Romney’s problems attracting Latino voters to those of an alcoholic, one of the most withering criticisms to date of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), who is also a member of the House Democratic leadership team, critiqued Romney’s efforts at attracting Latinos as half-hearted. Becerra said Romney will have to take drastic measures to repair his relationship with Latinos, who favor Obama by almost a three-to-one margin.
“Mitt Romney has a Latino problem. And like those who are alcoholic and go to Alcoholics Anonymous when they’ve got a problem, Mitt Romney should go to a place where he could learn what his problem is and really try to change his ways,” Becerra told Univision News. “You’re not going to get rid of that disease that infects you if you don’t treat it and you don’t believe it.”
The Romney campaign dismissed Becerra’s remarks as desperate.
“These comments are unfortunate, but they aren’t surprising given the desperate and negative reelection campaign President Obama is running,” responded Romney adviser Albert Martinez. “Democrats are lashing out with outrageous rhetoric because they’re frustrated at the reality that President Obama broke his promise to Hispanic voters while his party controlled Congress.”
Becerra’s comments come as Romney is ramping up his efforts to reach out to Latino voters after surviving a bruising GOP primary, in which he positioned himself as the toughest candidate on immigration in order to win over conservative base voters.
Those stances appeared to alienate large swaths of Latinos. During the primary, Romney pledged to veto the current version of the DREAM Act, legislation that would offer a pathway to citizenship to some undocumented minors who want to pursue higher education or join the military. The bill is is backed by 85 percent of Latino voters, according to a January ABC News/Univision/Latino Decisions poll.
Romney also endorsed a tough immigration enforcement strategy that would prod undocumented immigrants to “self-deport.”
During a closed-door meeting with donors in April, Romney indicated he would begin to change his tune.
“We have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party,” he said, warning that polls showing him in a deep hole against Obama among Latinos, “spells doom for us.”
Romney said his party must offer an alternative proposal to the DREAM Act despite his vow to repeal it if it ever reached his desk in its current form.
Romney has begun to make inroads with a small ad buy in Spanish and a speech in Washington, D.C. this week before the Latino Coalition, a small-business group. But Democrats are determined not to give Romney an opening with Latinos, a group they are looking to rely on as a base constituency in November.
Asked about Romney’s decision not to discuss a GOP DREAM Act alternative during his speech, which focused on education, Becerra replied that Romney’s “silence … was deafening.”
He added that Romney has not spent enough time and money reaching out to Latino voters and accused him of not doing enough to reject Republicans who make inflammatory remarks about immigrants, such as Rep. Steve King (Iowa).
“When Mitt Romney says nothing in front of a Latino audience on immigration, when Mitt Romney doesn’t distance himself from the radical right who are anti-immigrant in his party, and when Mitt Romney doesn’t make any investments in our community during his campaign to show Latinos if he cares, I think Mitt Romney is suffering from a Latino problem and he doesn’t know how to get out of it,” Becerra said.