Oh boy! Given the results of Governor Mitt Romney’s internal polls, I was very confident he was going to be the new president; clearly that didn’t happen. A campaign is won or lost on many pieces coming together, it is like a big puzzle; every piece has its place and without one piece the puzzle is not complete.
So many things went wrong for Governor Romney --poor strategic advice, the biased media, the unfortunate 47 percent comments, the inaccurate polling, Hurricane Sandy, three million Republicans that didn’t vote, etc. In addition, many people have talked about specific groups of voters such as young women, young people, African-American, Asian and Hispanics that went for the President in greater numbers than for Gov. Romney. I will concentrate on the issue of the Hispanic vote.
When I started to write this weekly column, I shared that Romney had not been my first choice. I initially had supported Governor Rick Perry because I knew him and considered his standing with the Hispanic community in Texas to be very strong. When I attended the first Republican Presidential Debate in Simi Valley, my decision was confirmed. He was the only one that showed an understanding of the immigrant community and yet was scorned for saying that if you didn’t agree with the Dream Act you were not compassionate. I then co-chaired the Gingrich campaign because he had a very good plan to deal with the undocumented.
But that first primary debate gave me such pause. It was very painful for an immigrant like me to witness every candidate (except for Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich) try to outdo the others by getting on the bash-the-undocumented-immigrant-bandwagon. My heart ached so much that on the first opportunity I had, I gave an earful to the national Republican Leaders during a meeting in DC. I predicted that the emerging candidate would get less that 25 percent of the Hispanic vote, if that kind of discourse continued.
When Ed Gillespie became an advisor to the Romney campaign I sent him an e-mail saying that he gave me hope. Ed was the RNC chair during the reelection of President George W. Bush and understood and cared deeply about the Hispanic community. The Romney campaign ramped up their efforts, there was no more mention of Kris Kobach or the ugly self-deportation strategy. Yet the damage had been done.
I still believe that Governor Romney is what America needs. His fiscal and economic policies are badly needed during this stubbornly stagnant economy. But America has spoken and within it the Hispanic community spoke very loudly. Issues of the heart trumped issues of the pocket. The Hispanic community record levels of unemployment, foreclosures and poverty under President Obama were not as important to them as the feeling of being scapegoated and unwelcomed by the Republican Party.
It is indeed my hope that my party learns from this lesson. Otherwise the 27 percent of the Hispanic vote will continue to be one of the missing pieces of the greater campaign puzzle and we will continue to lose elections in the foreseeable future.
Rosario Marin was the 41st Treasurer of the United States and is co-chair of the American Competitiveness Alliance.