Delegates watch a video presentation during an abbreviated session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Republican Latinos unite behind Romney and focus on the economy

Today is the day that Governor Mitt Romney formally goes from Republican presidential hopeful to the Republican nominee for President – and Latino Republicans are gearing up behind the GOP nominee, spreading the message to the nation’s Latinos that only Republicans can lift the economy from the shadows.

Three Latino leaders will grace the Republican National Convention stage as speakers tonight, but one of the most prominent will be Puerto Rican First Lady Luce Vela Fortuño, who will  introduce Governor Romney’s wife, Ann Romney.

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Today, Republican Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño, who addresses the convention on Wednesday night, spoke to reporters about his wife’s speaking role. “My wife will speak as a mother, as a Hispanic, and will primarily speak about her experience getting to know Mrs. Romney,” says the Puerto Rican governor. “I have to say I am quite proud of her,” he added with a smile.

But the governor’s speech on Wednesday will be about the main topic Latino Republicans are insisting is the real issue for Latinos.   “For us it’s all about job creation,” says Fortuño. He said that for U.S. Hispanics, and in his case for Puerto Ricans in the island and in the mainland, it is all about the economy and the need to improve the jobs numbers.

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Hector Barreto, one of the Juntos Con Romney co-chairs who used to head the Office of Small Business Administration, says they will “focus like a laser” on the economy and the small businesses, which he says have been hampered by more regulations and by the new health care legislation. Republicans are also appealing to Latina women — through the economy.

“Three quarters of the small business owners say Obamacare is an impediment and a tax increase, and this affects many women business owners,” says Jovita Carranza, former deputy administrator at the Small Business Administration.

Latino Republicans also unveiled a new Romney campaign ad today addressed to Latinos.  Saying the “promise” of America is fading away, Romney says in the ad, “Hispanics are hurting – with so many unemployed families struggling to save their homes and businesses…You deserve better.”

Part of the focus in these speeches is to “sell” candidate Mitt Romney — and the Republican philosophy. Latino polls have consistently shown Romney lags behind Obama among Latinos by a significant margin. The latest Latino Decisions tracking poll released yesterday has only 10 percent of Hispanic registered voters having a “very favorable” impression of Mitt Romney.

Latino Republicans hope the next few days of speeches and messages changes those numbers.

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