Mitt Romney’s first ad of the general election campaign has come out in Spanish and English.
Called “Dia Uno,” and “Day One,” both versions of the ad campaign – launched over the weekend – are identical, focusing on the economy and what “President Romney” would tackle his first day in office.
That incudes approving the Keystone XL pipeline in order to create "thousands of jobs," introduce tax cuts and "begin replacing" President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, which critics refer to as “Obamacare.”
The $1.3 million ad campaign is running in Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio.
Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is facing a challenge familiar to candidates running from his party –how to win over a sizable portion of a voting bloc that, in general, has seen the GOP as hostile, or indifferent, to it.
Political experts say that a presidential candidate must win at least 40 percent of the Latino vote to have a shot at The White House.
President George W. Bush achieved that milestone in his 2004 re-election bid with roughly 44 percent of the Latino vote. But polls of likely Latino voters have showed that Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, faces an uphill battle in wooing this crucial bloc.
A Fox News Latino poll earlier this year showed that nearly 70 percent of respondents said they supported President Barack Obama, even though they didn’t give high praise for how he has handled the economy or immigration.
Against the other GOP candidates who were running against Romney to be nominee at the time the poll was conducted, Romney led with 35 percent of Latino voter support – the others fared no better than in the mid-teens.
But when put against Obama, the response changed significantly.
Only 14 percent indicated support for Romney and the other GOP candidates, and said they viewed Republicans as not having their best interests at heart.
Romney’s hard-line immigration rhetoric, which stood out for its take-no-prisoners tone even among the field of similarly tough-talking GOP candidates seeking the party nomination, has worried some Republicans.
Romney said he looked to Arizona’s controversial approach to immigration – particularly E-Verify, used to confirm the eligibility of people to work in the United States legally -- as a model and added that if he was president he would stop all federal lawsuits against state laws such as Arizona’s SB 1070.
He also reaffirmed his support for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and mandating the use of E-Verify to deter undocumented immigrants from finding employment.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martínez, mentioned on occasion as a possible running mate for Romney, was quoted in Newsweek last week as saying that Romney and other Republicans must move beyond an enforcement-only approach to undocumented immigration to supporting a comprehensive reform of the system that also would provide a pathway to legalization.
And Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who ran against Obama in 2008, told Fox News Latino in a recent interview that Latinos were a natural constituency for Republicans, given many of their interests.
“There are many values, and things that we share, we Republicans: lower taxes, pro military, small business, you know how Hispanic or Latinos are small business people, pro-life,” McCain said. “There are many areas there that they would, in my view, would be naturally attracted to the Republican banner. And, in fact George Bush, Bush II, did well in his elections, with Hispanic voters.”
McCain stressed that Republicans must overcome the alienation with Hispanics caused by the hard-line GOP primary tone on immigration – which many Hispanics say is not their primary daily concern, but they nonetheless keep close watch over the way it is addressed by candidates.
The Republican National Committee recently announced a grassroots get-out-the-vote drive targeting Latinos, and said it will be doing more campaign-related work through Spanish-language media. In the past, they said, the GOP has done Hispanic outreach on a national level, but has not adjusted its effort to adapt to the different Hispanic communities around the country.
Last week the Romney campaign also sent out a message to Cuban Americans to mark Cuba's Independence Day on May 20, and also to pitch why as president he would work harder than his counterpart to push for democracy on the communist island.
Romney’s Hispanic outreach ads come as Obama also is running Spanish-language commercials as part of a nine-state, $25 million advertising effort. The president’s ads, which for now are running in Florida, Nevada and Colorado, promote his health care overhaul.
Obama won 67 percent of Hispanic voters to McCain's 31 percent in 2008.
This story contains material from The Associated Press.
Elizabeth Llorente can be reached email@example.com
Elizabeth Llorente can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Elizabeth Llorente on https://twitter.com/Liz_Llorente