Mitt: it was a long hard slog but we did it, now comes the run to the middle. You’ve got a lot of ground to make up after out-righting the right but no steeper will your climb be than with the Latino electorate. Moving forward here’s our three-pronged Latino action plan – hold the line with the Cuban vote, throw in the towel with the Latino Democratic vote, and fire up the Republican and Republican leaning Mexican voters in the West as if you’re life depended on it because well, politically it does.
Operation Hold the Line: Cubans in Florida
You’ve already got the Cuban love, now just keep stoking that fire of good feeling. We mopped the floor with Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul in the January primary. However, don’t loose sight of the fact that the Latino component of this win was highly concentrated among Cuban immigrants in Miami-Dade County. Any hopes that we can get the Puerto Rican vote in the Central part of the state is pure Disney World fantasy.
So we don’t need to worry about revving up the older Cuban voters that fled the Castro regime—and yes, I won’t forget to send Ozzie that thank you note. What does worry me is the American-born Cuban voters. I’m especially worried about all of those Cuban jovencitos that fell under Barack Obama’s spell in 2008. We have a shot with them, but we can’t keep coming back to our Fidel line. To keep them in the Republican fold and most importantly out to the polls we’ve got to relate to them on a policy level. I’ll be working on that end, but in the meantime don’t let up on the Rubio flirtation!
Operation Throw in the Towel: Latino Democrats
You are not George W. Bush and I am not Karl Rove. We’ve got to face the fact that we don’t have a well-developed strategy or history of courting crossover votes from Latino Democrats. Our primary election strategy of cozying up to the Tea Party anti-immigrant blitz closed off any chance of gaining a second look from Latino Democrats. And yes, even the very socially conservative ones. Regrettably that darned issue of immigration has remained number one or two among Latino Democrats.
And no, Mitt, as much as you would like to think that you’re recent maneuvering on the DREAM Act—allowing for a military service clause—will sway Latino Democrats. It won’t. More specifically, trying to get Rubio to sponsor an alternative DREAM Act is a non-starter. As a Cuban-American he simply does not have that personal tie to the issue of immigration as Mexican-Americans. Don’t think I’m still not sore at you for ignoring my advice of working with the Mexican-American Republicans in Congress to craft that alternative. I had Kiko Canseco from Texas all ready to go, but no, you only had eyes for Marco. And while I’m at it, that endorsement from Jan Brewer, what were you thinking! What’s done is done and we simply need to accept our immigration policy bungle and that there’s no hope whatsoever of peeling off Latin Democrats or even moderate Independent.
Operation Send Flowers and Chocolates: Western Latino Republicans
I don’t need to remind you, but I will, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico are all within reach and have large Latino electorates! There are real glimmers of hope in these Western states given that Nevada and New Mexico both elected Latino Republicans. But before you get too excited don’t forget that these Latino GOP governors didn’t get much crossover Latino Democratic support. Their strategy was to turn out the Latino Republican voters along with the white Republicans.
For Latino Republicans outside of Florida the issue of immigration is a big deal. Do I need to remind you about the pledge from the GOP Latino group Somos Republicanos to not vote for you and instead write in Ronald Reagan if you became the nominee?
Mexican-American Republicans see your anti-immigration stance as not only callous but going against the principals of free-market capitalism. Our Western Latino GOPers are not thrilled with you, but they want to stick to their party. They won’t vote for the President, but they could very well simply not go to the polls.
I know you’re scared of turning off non-Latino Republicans by softening your immigration tone. But, short of you offering full amnesty, Arizona and the South will not go blue. All I’m saying is to soften the immigration tone to woo back the Latino Republicans in the West. Channel your inner Reagan and turn on the charm while toning down the immigration rhetoric.
Bueno pues, Mitt, there you have it. We can get the job done in the purple states of Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. Don’t forget, the Latino electorates in these states are our ticket to ride in 2012!
Victoria Defrancesco Soto