Al Cardenas, chair of the American Conservative Union and an advisor to the Romney campaign, spoke to us this morning and discussed why he thought national Latino numbers for Mitt Romney have remained low in polls – the latest Latino Decisions poll has Obama with more than 70 percent Latino support, and Pew Hispanic has Obama Latino support at 66 percent.
“The disappointing fact is the lack of time we had to properly address our community,” says Cardenas. “Governor Romney had a long primary season, and the schedule did not take us to a lot of states with Hispanic populations, except Florida,” Cardenas adds. Unlike George W. Bush, Senator McCain and former president Reagan, Cardenas says the fact that Mitt Romney came from a state (Massachusetts) with fewer Latinos put him at a disadvantage.
“I think we’ve made enough progress among Latinos that we might win swing states,” but Governor Romney inherited a damaged brand with the Hispanic community,” Cardenas says. He acknowledged immigration was a contentious issue for Republicans in this election. “For Latinos, immigration is a respect issue; you need to check that box properly, and immigration was a garbled message,” Cardenas says, adding “our party needs to be proactive on this.”
Cardenas says he is disappointed Governor Romney has not received higher approval numbers and support from Latinos. “We had a great story to tell, especially the Administration’s “fracaso” (failure) to address the employment numbers and the economy,” Cardenas says.
“I think it came down to a lack of trust and things said by a minority of leaders in our party,” says Cardenas, in summing up low Latino voter approval numbers for the Republican party and Governor Romney.