Although he appeared before several Hispanic groups last week and pledged to “fix the immigration system and make it work for the people of America,” he did not offer many specifics. Romney still refuses to say whether he would continue President Obama’s deferred action policy for immigrants brought here illegally as children.
Romney apparently believes that being Latino would be “helpful” to his campaign. But being Mexican-American didn’t help former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson when he ran for president in 2008. He never clicked with Hispanics or any significant number of voters; he dropped out of the race after the New Hampshire primary.
The fact is, Hispanics do not vote based on ethnicity; we vote on policy. Just look at Republican Governors Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Susana Martinez of New Mexico. Although they were both elected in 2010 in states with sizable Hispanic populations, they won without a majority of Latino support. In both cases, most Hispanics voted for the non-Hispanic candidate, because their positions were more in sync with their own.
It is disappointing that Romney thinks being Hispanic would smooth his path to the White House, because it shows he doesn’t recognize our social and economic realities. Consider what his life might have been like if he were born Latino.
For starters, it is unlikely that Romney would have grown up wealthy and attended elite schools. Studies by the Pew Hispanic Center have shown that Hispanics are more likely than other Americans to live below the poverty line and to attend poorly performing public schools.