TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (FL) speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)2012 Getty Images
When Sen. Marco Rubio introduced Mitt Romney at the Republican National convention in Tampa, we heard a lot about Rubio's personal rise to political prominence. We heard a lot about how the story of Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, is the 'story of America.' We heard a story that says, in between the lines, “the GOP is a Latino-friendly party, the GOP is your party, Latinos.”
And we watched Rubio desperately attempt to voice his tepid support for immigration reform while not appearing “too liberal” on immigration for the group that got him elected: the Tea party.
Unfortunately for Rubio and the GOP, his introductory speech did little more than make it obvious to Latinos across the country what many of us all ready know: Rubio does not and cannot speak for the majority of Latinos.
He has failed to “deliver” the coveted Latino vote and this speech will not change that. No amount of Spanish phrases or personal stories about his father coming from poverty in Cuba will increase the likelihood that less than 26 percent of Latino voters vote for Romney and the Republicans come November.
Those of us that have followed Rubio's history and record have known this for some time. But now, Rubio and the Republicans disconnect from Latinos will be known throughout the country.
I am proud to say that the organization I work for has played a pivotal role in exposing Rubio's anti-immigrant, anti-Latino record back when nobody knew much about him or his nasty record. Prior to the campaign to expose Rubio's disregard for the Latino community as reflected in his voting record - the No Somos Rubios campaign - the majority of Latinos in the United States had no idea about the telegenic Senator.
In fact, Tea Party activists through out the country knew more about him than Latino voters in the southwest did. Thanks to pressure from our campaign and from Latinos throughout the country, Rubio, reversed his opposition to supporting DREAM Act students in their demand for temporary and permanent solutions to their status.
It was only after thousands of phone calls, denunciations by dozens of Latino organizations, school walk-outs , and serious reporting by media outlets that persistently pointed out Rubio’s hypocrisy that he changed his tune and made favorable statements about DREAM Act students.
Rubio’s high profile speech cannot undo years of animosity and exclusion of Latinos from the GOP. His speech cannot erase the fact that while the GOP puts Latinos at arms distance, they fully embrace the Tea Party’s anti-immigrant war against our community. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
When Rubio went up on stage to introduce Romney, many of us wondered what it must be like for him being there as one of the only Latinos in the convention. But its clear that for Senator Rubio, being given a platform to advance his self-political interests, despite the destruction being rained on your community, is the price one pays for selling his people out.
As he spoke, Rubio was silent about his roots in the Tea party, now the most rabid, anti-immigrant group in the country, according to a recent report by the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR), among others.
While he extolls humanitarian values that sound pro-immigrant, the boisterous Tea Party fanatics will not allow his “friendly” statements to go unchecked. But we Latinos will not give him a pass. We will know that even as he exploits our cultural strengths in being warm, personable and a Spanish speaker, we will know that this is only a rouge to cover over Tea party hatred.
We will not be fooled and we will not forget.
Arturo Carmona is Executive Director of Presente.org.