The punches are coming harder and more frequently.
On Tuesday, the campaign of GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney released a web ad aimed at Latinos that seized on the most recent jobs report, which showed that the national unemployment rate for Latinos rose to 11 percent in May, almost 3 points higher than the national average of 8.2 percent.
The Romney campaign ad, which has versions in both English and Spanish, contains no speaking, only images of sullen-looking Hispanics and excerpts and headlines of media stories about Latinos struggling financially.
The Spanish version is titled “Deprimente,” or “Depressing,” and the English one is titled “Dismal.” It is cast as a response to a recent Obama campaign ad targeted at Hispanics that says “We’re on the right path.”
Some of the Romney ad excerpts are: “Under President Obama, Hispanic Unemployment Has Increased From 10 % to 11 %,” “In Dismal Jobs Report, Unemployment Rate of Minority Workers Rises,” and “Since 2008, More Hispanics Have Fallen Into Poverty.”
A statement announcing the ad said: “The Obama campaign recently released a Spanish-language web ad asserting that ‘we’re on the right path.’ Mitt Romney disagrees and believes that rising unemployment and more Hispanics in poverty is not the ‘right path’ for our country. America can do better and, with Mitt Romney as president, we will.”
The Obama campaign struck back within hours, depicting Romney as someone who favors the rich.
“Hispanics stand to lose the most from Romney’s insistence on the same failed economic policies that created the economic crisis," said Gabriela Domenzain, campaign spokesperson, "including his plans to give massive tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, allow Wall Street write its own rules again, and let foreclosures ‘hit the bottom.’"
The Romney ad comes just days after a top adviser for Obama said over the weekend that Romney would be insulting Latinos if he picked Marco Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida who is a Tea Party favorite, as his running mate.
“I think it would be an insult to the Hispanic community to choose Sen. Rubio if he thinks that that is somehow -- if Gov. Romney thinks that's sort of a 'get out of jail free' card for all of the things and the positions that he's taken,” said the adviser, David Axelrod, in an interview with Univision host Jorge Ramos.
Axelrod’s statement came in response to Ramos’s comment that that Obama "broke a major campaign promise" on immigration reform and asked Axelrod if Romney could potentially win the Latino vote with Rubio as his running mate.
"I don't think Marco Rubio will exonerate Gov. Romney for the very, very extreme positions he's taken on immigration and for his bad economics when it comes to the interests of the Latino community," Axelrod said to Ramos.
Latinos are considered a potential major force in the presidential elections, especially if they have a strong turnout, and many say they disapprove of the way Obama has handled immigration --specifically the record number of deportations that have occurred under his first term.
Political experts say a candidate would need at least 40 percent of Latino voters to win.
In polls, Latinos who are eligible to vote have said the economy and education are among their top issues, ahead of immigration. At the same time, they indicate that a candidate who addresses immigration in a way they might consider offensive or insensitive to Latinos in general could lose their support.
During the GOP primary, Romney often expressed the most hard-line positions on immigration matters of all the Republican candidates.
He also has aligned himself with some of the nation’s most hard-line immigration activists, including Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former California Gov. Pete Wilson and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped draft the controversial anti-illegal immigration measure in Arizona that now is before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Romney's campaign has pushed for a focus on the economy in its ads for Latinos and non-Latinos, and generally try to avoid initiating discussion on immigration. In a recent telephonic press conference, officials hosting the call for the Republican National Committee repeatedly tried shifting reporters' attempts to focus on immigration to talking about the economy and jobs.
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco, a Texas Republican, told Fox News Latino that immigration was an issue that Obama supporters kept pushing to "try to divide the Hispanic population."
"Among Latinos, the most important thing is the family, job security. . .education. . .healthcare," Canseco said, adding that Romney's position on immigration issues are spelled out on the candidate's website.
Polls show Obama leading Romney among Latinos by more than 30 percent and Obama's job approval rating among Latinos in recent polls was at over 60 percent, higher than the national average of just under 50 percent.
In Florida, a recent polls showed Romney leading Obama by 6 percent.
*For the full interview with Congressman Francisco Canseco (R-TX) conducted by Victor Garcia listen below
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