NEW YORK – In a Fox News Latino exclusive, Juan Williams speaks with Congressman Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat, about Latino support, President Obama's immigration record, Mitt Romney’s new ad aimed at Latinos, and much more. Watch the unedited interview below.
If you want to know how much GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney cares about Latinos, just look at how much he spends reaching out to them, Rep. Xavier Becerra says.
While the Republican Party and its allies pumped millions into television ads for the Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall race, the Romney campaign’s latest effort to reach out to Latinos is a relatively inexpensive Web video.
“He’s an investor,” Becerra, a California Democrat, told Juan Williams in an exclusive interview with Fox News Latino. “And for him to invest such a tiny fraction of his campaign money to reach out to Latinos I think is a clear sign he doesn’t care much about Latinos.”
Becerra, an Obama campaign surrogate, defended the president against the attacks leveled by the Romney campaign in the Web spot, titled “Dismal.” The ad points to the high Latino unemployment rate of 11 percent as evidence of Obama’s failure to serve the Hispanic community.
He’s an investor, and for him to invest such a tiny fraction of his campaign money to reach out to Latinos I think is a clear sign he doesn’t care much about Latinos.
- Rep. Xavier Berra on Mitt Romney
“It’s inaccurate, because the unemployment for Hispanics has actually dropped,” Becerra said, pointing out that Obama took over during a recession that began during the outgoing George W. Bush administration. “We were in the depths of this black hole.”
Becerra also blamed Republican Congress members for sabotaging Obama's efforts to address the country’s economic malaise.
“We need to lower the price of gas, we need to get people back to work, and the president’s trying to do that,” Becerra said. “It’s tough to believe the president will have a partner… You’ve got a Congress that’s unwilling to work.”
Becerra also criticized Romney’s comments questioning the importance of class size for public education and his calls to limit spending on Medicare and other government services, which tend to be popular among Latinos. A 2011 survey by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 75 percent of Latinos supported a larger government that provides more services, compared to 41 percent of the general public.
The Romney campaign has focused its message to the Latino community on the economy, seeking to take advantage of the fact that jobs and the economy routinely poll as the issues weighing heaviest on Hispanics’ minds when they head to the polls.
But Becerra hammered the Romney campaign for avoiding the issue of immigration, which the ad does not mention.
“Mitt Romney’s got some real work to do to try to etch-a-sketch his way out of the hole he dug himself in with Latino voters,” Becerra said.
During the fight for the GOP nod, Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act, a proposal that would give undocumented youth who enroll in college or the military a pathway to citizenship, as well as comprehensive immigration reform.
The positions are not popular in the Latino community, where 90 percent of likely voters support the DREAM Act and 85 percent support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, according to a Fox News Latino poll released in March.
Becerra said those positions will continue to hurt Romney as he struggles to market himself to Latino voters. A poll by NBC, Telemundo and the Wall Street Journal released last month found Obama trouncing Romney among Latino voters, with 61 percent against Romney’s 27 percent.
“I can’t imagine the polls will get any better for him over the next six months,” Becerra said. “But we’ll see. Maybe he’ll really make an investment in the Latino community.”
Produced by Victor Garcia. Follow him on Twitter at @MrVicGarcia.
Written by Roque Planas. Follow him on Twitter at @RoqPlanas.