Vice President Joe Biden went on a blistering attack against Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and Republicans as he delivered the closing remarks of the four-day National Council of La Raza (NCLR) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Biden stressed Romney’s budget would eviscerate Head Start programs and nutrition programs important to Latino children, as well as strike 19 million from Medicaid rolls. Biden asked the audience, “and this is a man who says President Barack Obama is out of touch?”
Once again on the attack, Biden said Mitt Romney was refusing to release details of his offshore bank accounts. ”He wants you to show your papers, but he won’t show his,” he said. Biden also criticized Romney for saying he would veto the Dream Act, and asked the Latinos in the room to “close their eyes and imagine a Supreme Court with two more Scalias or two more Roberts-imagine what it will mean for voting rights, and so much more,” he said. Biden quoted a congressional Republican comparing keeping student loans at a lower rate doubled as a “stage three cancer of socialism.”
“This is your moment,” Biden concluded. ”Don’t tell me you’re not ready-it’s much too important for you to remain silent; we need your help, and we need it now.”
Before Biden’s speech, his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, also spoke to the group of Latinos, reminding those assembled that as a current community college instructor , she knows overcrowded schools or high dropout rates “are not a Latino problem, it’s an American problem.”
Before the Bidens addressed the NCLR, “Juntos Con Romney” Steering Committee Co-Chair Hector Barreto went on the offensive himself, saying Biden’s speech comes on the heels of another disappointing jobs report.
“We have now had 41 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent,” said Barreto. ”For our Hispanic community, the situation is even more precarious, with the unemployment at 11 percent and for our youth-a staggering 31 percent.”
Florida Republican state senator Anitere Flores says it is a “joke” for Obama’ to say the economy is at least headed in the right direction.
“You are playing the American people for a fool if you think stagnant unemployment for 40 months is a good sign,” Flores says. Republicans also said Obama had not kept his promises to Latinos. They released a quote of Obama telling an NCLR audience in 2008 that “the system isn’t working when Hispanics are losing their jobs faster than anybody else.”
The role of the parties at the NCLR conference became political fodder a few days ago when it was revealed that no high-ranking Republican would speak at the four-day event. NCLR president Janet Murguia said it was a “missed opportunity.”
The NCLR did conduct a “text message poll” during the conference and about 8 in 10 of the Latinos who responded said they preferred Obama to Romney in the upcoming presidential election. Still, political scientist Celeste Montoya, from the University of Colorado, says the Republican party – as well as Democrats – should be conducting an aggressive outreach to Latino voters.
“Especially in states like mine, which is a purple state, we can go either way,” says Montoya. ”Republicans should be paying attention to developing a relationship with Latinos, since nothing is predetermined. There is no ‘safe’ vote,” she adds.