Organized labor and a super-PAC supporting President Barack Obama’s re-election have teamed up for a $4 million ad campaign that targets swing-state Hispanic voters and aims to portray Mitt Romney as callous toward the working class.
The Spanish-language television and radio ads announced today by Priorities USA Action and the Service Employees International Union juxtapose Hispanic voters critical of Romney with video and audio clips of verbal miscues by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee on jobs and the economy. These include him saying, “I like to be able to fire people who provide services to me,” “I’m also unemployed,” and “You can focus on the very poor -- that’s not my focus.”
The advertising offensive targets a constituency whose support Obama will attempt to hold for re-election in November. Obama in 2008 won the Hispanic vote over Republican John McCain by 67 percent to 31 percent, according to an analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of exit polls.
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, now a Romney campaign adviser, said earlier this year that Republicans have to win closer to 40 percent of the Hispanic vote this year or risk being “consigned to minority status.”
With the economy threatening to undercut Obama’s overall support, maximizing the allegiance of Hispanic voters may be crucial to Obama in several tightly contested states.
In one of the ads, a Latino voter says, “I’d never support someone with that type of thinking, values or theories,” while another says, “If we are not important for him, neither is our vote.”
The ads are to air in Colorado, Florida and Nevada, three swing states with significant Hispanic voting populations, starting this week and running through the summer. They are meant to counter Romney’s own outreach to Hispanic voters through Spanish-language ads.
SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina said in a statement that “when Latinos hear Romney, in his own words, they really know what’s going on,” and that they feel “insulted and angry” to hear the wealthy businessman and former Massachusetts governor joke about being unemployed.
At 16 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanics are the nation’s largest ethnic minority.
In Colorado, the Hispanic population has grown by about 40 percent since 2000. In Nevada, Hispanics comprise more than a quarter of the population.
Obama won 57 percent of Florida’s Hispanic vote four years ago -- one of the keys to his victory over McCain there -- after Republican President George W. Bush carried the state’s Hispanic vote in 2004.