When Mitt Romney speaks that Spanish, he sounds so authentic! Well, actually, he leaves the heavy bilingual lifting to his son, Craig Romney, and his supporter Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño in the radio advertisement titled “Oportunidad” ahead of that territory’s GOP caucuses on Sunday. Candidate Romney does come in at the end to say
he approves this message, thanks, in Spanish.
This is not quite like the Southern discomfort Melinda Henneberger wrote about. And Romney is certainly miles ahead of rival Rick Santorum, a longtime Fortuño friend — and boy, does that have to hurt.
Santorum, who seems to continually think up new ways to quash his momentum, this time suggested and then backed away from suggestions that Puerto Rico adopt English as its “main language” before it gains statehood.
Romney boasts a long list of endorsements by Puerto Rican leaders and elected officials, drawn, he says in his open letter to the people of Puerto Rico, by his plans “to get the economy rolling again” by getting government “out of the way.” (The letter also says he “will work to settle the Island’s 113-year political status question,” without getting too specific.)
But his love for the people excludes at least one person of Puerto Rican descent.
Romney’s campaign has attacked Santorum for his 1998 vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals during his time in the Senate, a vote that “put her on a path to the Supreme Court,” says an ad.
And in an interview with Enrique Cruz of Noti Uno in Puerto Rico, Romney said he would have voted against the Supreme Court confirmation of the justice he calls an “activist liberal jurist.”
On that point, Fortuño disagrees, telling ABC News: “Justice Sotomayor’s nomination was a momentous occasion for Puerto Rican Americans. We’re all proud of her accomplishments.”
Nine Republican senators did support Sotomayor’s confirmation after a grilling that was by turns silly and condescending. Many Hispanics, whatever their political leanings, felt pride in her accomplishments, from the Bronx to Princeton and Yale Law, and her appointment by a president who is doing well in polls with Hispanic voters.
Perhaps Romney thinks Mario Rubio’s imprimatur and possible spot on the GOP ticket will make it all better. But the tone of his attacks on the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice — coupled with his stand against the Dream Act and immigration reform — may not help him gain support among Hispanic voters, even if his accent is passable.
Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning multimedia journalist in Charlotte, N.C., is a contributor to The Root, Fox News Charlotte, NPR, Creative Loafing and Nieman Watchdog blog. She has worked at The New York Times, Charlotte Observer and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter: @mcurtisnc3