Dem convention preview: Better off?, Romney’s post-convention Latino bounce
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) sparked a debate over whether the country is better off before President Obama took office.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As Democrats gather for their party’s convention here, President Obama faces this central task: convince voters that he deserves a second term despite an uneven economic recovery.
That task was placed square in the spotlight this weekend when Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a top party figure and possible 2016 presidential candidate, said that the country is not better off four years ago.
O’Malley was asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” whether he could claim Americans were better off than they were when George W. Bush was in office.
“No … but that’s not the question of this election,” O’Malley answered.
“Without a doubt, we are not as well-off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses,” O’Malley added.
On Monday, O’Malley walked back his comment on Monday after Republicans pounced on it to claim Obama does not deserve reelection.
The Hill reports:
“Is there anybody on this panel who thinks we’ve recovered all we’ve lost in the Bush recession? I don’t think anybody can say that,” he said. “But clearly we are moving forward; we are creating jobs. Unemployment’s down, job creation is up and those positive movements would not happen without the president’s leadership.”
Facing a steep deficit with Latino voters in part caused by the party’s tough talk on immigration, Republicans have sought to make their case to Latinos on the basis of the economy. The GOP points out that 2 million more Latinos live in poverty today than in 2008 and that the jobless rate for Latinos remains north of 10 percent.
But Latinos still trust Obama over Romney to fix the economy 59-30 percent, according to a Latino Decisions/impreMedia survey released Monday. In addition, 68 percent continue say Bush deserves most of the blame for the economic downturn, with only 14 percent blaming Obama.
The challenge for Obama lies in using the convention to wash away talk of the disappointments of his first term and reignite the enthusiasm among some segments of his base, including large swaths of the Latino community, to ensure they show up on Election Day.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the chairman of the Democratic convention, said that the nation is better off than it was under Bush.
“Yes, we are better off, but we got to keep on working harder,” he told CBS News.
Julián Castro’s moment in the spotlight
Read my profile of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro ahead of his keynote speech tomorrow. Democrats aren’t doing much to tamp down expectations that Castro is going to make an Obama ‘04-like speech Tuesday night.
Don’t worry, Mr. Mayor. No pressure at all!
Latino representation: Which party is better?
While Republicans stressed their large bullpen of rising Latino stars who spoke at their convention in Tampa, (not to mention their Spanish) Democrats are saying that their grassroots support in the Latino community is stronger than the GOP’s. The party says that 800 delegates are Latino, many more than in year’s past, according to the Huffington Post.
Democrats will also stream the convention online in Spanish, the Associated Press reports.
Romney receives small post-convention bounce among Latinos
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney received a modest bounce among Latino voters in the aftermath of his party’s convention in Tampa.
President Obama now leads Romney 64-30 percent compared to 65-26 percent at this time last week, according to a Latino Decisions/impreMedia tracking poll.
Overall, the Republicans inclusion of Latino speakers such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez appeared to aid the party’s image somewhat. Twenty-one percent said had a more favorable impression of the GOP, including 39 percent of Latino independents.
But the convention did not appear to be the complete game-changer some Romney backers had hoped for.
Romney still maintains a deep negative favorability rating of 31-54 percent, which is actually an improvement over his 27-55 percent favorability rating last week. While the number of Latino voters who say the Republican Party does a good job of Latino outreach ticked up three percentage points, 72 percent still sees the party as uncaring or hostile toward the community.
Californians behaving badly
One delegate was asked to leave the convention after a late night hotel disturbance in which he impersonated a member of Congress.
California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton compared GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. The Obama campaign condemned the remark but did not say if it is calling on him to resign.
(Photo: Flickr, mdfriendofhillary)