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January 20th, 2012
01:50 PM ET

Can Romney’s Mexico ties, Spanish ads woo Latino voters?

Editor's note: Watch In America's documentary about the race to capture the Latino vote on CNN in October 2012.

By Rafael Romo, CNN Senior Latin American Affairs Editor

Chihuahua, Mexico (CNN) - In the town of Colonia Juarez, where houses look much like homes in the American Southwest, there lives a family named Romney.

Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather led the first group of Mormons to the state of Chihuahua to flee religious persecution. Mitt Romney’s father George - an auto executive, and Michigan governor who also ran for president in the United States - was born nearby, in a town called Colonia Dublan. He left with his parents when he was only five years old, but Romney relatives still live nearby.

Romney mentioned his family's connections to Mexico on the campaign trail earlier this month, then released a slew of new political ads, including Spanish ads in Florida, a state with a high concentration of Latinos. In one of the ads, Romney’s son Craig, who speaks Spanish, talks about liberty, opportunity and how the United States is a country where “anything is possible.”

“My father, Mitt Romney, believes in those American values because he has lived them himself and he will fight to restore the greatness of our nation,” Craig Romney says in the ad.

For the ad, the Romney campaign also enlisted three influential Latino Republican leaders from Florida, former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, his brother, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

“Romney believes in us,” Mario Diaz-Balart says in the ad. As it’s customary, at the end of the ad Romney himself says - in Spanish - that he approves the message. “Soy Mitt Romney y apruebo este mensaje.”

But the political ad and his heritage might not draw many Hispanic voters to the Romney campaign. Some have been driven away by his position on immigration. Romney has said immigration reform offering a path towards citizenship would be tantamount to giving amnesty to illegal immigrants. He also said he opposes the DREAM Act, which would legalize undocumented immigrants with no criminal record who were brought by their parents when they were children and have served in the armed forces or finished college.

This week, U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois, blasted Romney for his positions on illegal immigration and for welcoming the endorsement of anti-immigration activist Kris Kobach, who was instrumental in drafting strict immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama.

“Mitt Romney and the Republicans are campaigning in the Deep South to restrict the civil rights of immigrants and to continue our nation’s neglect of immigration reform based on the fantasy that 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants could, should or would leave the United States,” Gutierrez said.

“Mitt Romney can surround himself with all the Cuban Republicans in the world - and he will be doing exactly that in Florida - but the stink of the anti-immigrant positions he is taking will not rub off.”

But Bettina Inclan, the newly appointed director of Hispanic Outreach for the Republican National Committee responded to Gutierrez’s remarks.

“Instead of respecting the diversity of the Latino community, Democrats have decided to attack Hispanics and divide the Latino community, because they can’t face the failed policies of Obama administration,” Inclan said. “Hispanics across the nation are rejecting President Obama’s failed economic policies and are holding Obama accountable to the broken promises he made to Latinos during his campaign and through this disastrous administration.”

Back in the rolling hills of the Mexican state of Chihuahua and about 180 miles from the U.S. border and El Paso, Texas, Kelly Wayne Romney, Mitt Romney’s second cousin. He lives next to a gleaming white Mormon temple that sits on top of a hill, a rarity in this largely Catholic country.

Kelly Romney is a citizen of Mexico and the United States, but hasn’t met Mitt Romney. Still, he said he’s proud of the candidate and feels his second cousin would make a great president.

“I think he would make a really great president. I really do. I think he’s got the business experience. I think he’s got integrity,” Kelly Romney said.

But as much as he admires his second cousin, Kelly Romney says he strongly disagrees with his position on immigration, and finds the idea of a border fence “totally ridiculous” and a waste of money.

As the owner of peach and apple orchards and a fruit packing cooperative, Romney, has seen first hand the dynamics of immigration. He’s 69 years old and has lived all of his life in the border state of Chihuahua, with the exception of three years in high school in Tucson, Arizona, and five years later in life in Mesa, Arizona.

“Mitt has expressed a desire to export all of those who are illegal in the United States back to Mexico. I’m against that political philosophy,” Kelly Romney said.

He says there should be a mutually beneficial agreement between Mexico and the United States, an agreement that would recognize that the U.S. agriculture and construction industries can benefit from Mexican labor in an orderly and legal way and that Mexicans can benefit from job opportunities in the United States.

“There should be guest worker programs for [Mexican] people that are practically starving to death to be able to go over there and do work that the American people would not do,” Romney said. “These people that do manual labor, there aren’t any better people in the world than these Mexican people to go over there and do manual labor, working in the fields and other jobs that people over just won’t do. They would rather sit back and draw unemployment rather than get those jobs.”

Still, Mitt Romney’s campaign has affected at least one vote: If Romney gets the nomination, Kelly Romney said, he’ll cross the border to vote for him in November.

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Filed under: Immigration • Latino in America • Politics • Who we are
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Cambridge Ray

    "If current Hispanic voting and demographic trends continue (*), as early as 2020 the Republican party will be unable to get enough electoral college votes to win another presidential election EVER"

    - The Wall Street Journal, not quite a liberal rag

    (*) The trends have accelerated, thanks to Arizona and the Tea Party.

    January 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • dale

      We need more Latino leaders who care about what is good for America and not a particular ethnic group. Hopefully they will surface soon.

      January 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pancho Ville

    To Jose0311USMC, you keep saying you're a "Hispnanic PR Guy", and then you say you're not Hispanic, you're American. Would you make up your mind?? What are you or are you son confused by the Tea Party Neo-nazi rhetoric that you are now trying to deny your Hispanic roots.........whether you're a PR guy is a moot point. Never heard of a PR guy.

    Also, everyone needs a passport to go anywhere. Even to frigging Bolivia. So you can't pull that on on me. I've been there and know you need a passport to get anywhere and to come back into the U.S. If you're so concerned about terrorists, why don't you join the friggin marines again and go kill them over there in Afghanistan and Pakistan before they come over here. Seriously, be proud of your Hispanic roots and throw out your tea party neo-nazi progaganda.

    January 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JOSE0311USMC

    ROMNEY WANTS THE MEXICAN VOTE ?? TELL THEM THAT YOU ARE FOR AMNESTY AND FOR THE DREAM ACT....ME ? I WANT MY TAXES CUT--I WANT VETS ON PENSIONS TO GET THEIR COST OF LIVING EVERY YEARS-I WANT SOCIAL SECURITY TO GET THEIR COST OF LIVING EVERY YEARS....STOP PLAYING GAMES WITH THE COST OF LIVING RAISES.

    January 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JOSE0311USMC

    ROMNEY WANTS TO WOO LATINO'S ? I'M A PR GUY I WAS PLANNING ON VOTING GOP BECAUSE I'M NOT HAPPY WITH OBAMA IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT, BUT HE SCARES ME WITH HIS PRO CORPORATION AND PRO FAT CAT TALK..ALSO HE TALKS ABOUT LOWERING THE TAXES ON THE FAT CATS, WHICH MEANS THAT THE MIDDLE CLASS WILL HAVE TO PAY MORE TO LOWER THE DEBT ......GOP CAN HAVE THE MIDDLE CLASS VOTING FOR THEM IF THEY WERE TO LOWER OUR TAXES INSTEAD POF THE FAT CATS.

    January 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Comonsns

      Latinos commit more crimes per person than ANY other race in the world. They, mostly the Mexicans, are financially ruining this country. ALL illegals should be deported, no questions asked. If you break the law, you should be punished.....Latinos think they are above the law as usual.

      January 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • all_whyte_now___calm_down

        Whites participate in a lot of genocide...that's a crime..that's not good...go back to Europe.

        January 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DSBsky

    LOL The onll way Romneys fake ass can woo latinos is by dropping out of the race.. That would be a happy day.. Ron Paul 2012!

    January 23, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      ALL LATINO'S DO NOT HAVE THE SAME NEEDS...MEXICANS WANT NO IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT.. ME ? I WANT IMMIGRATION LAWS ENFORCE..I'M A PR LATINO.

      January 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Victoria Sethunya

    Ask Mitt Romney if he is concerned about those who were deported while leaving a pay check behind.

    January 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Buck

    When I see my family I hug them when he see his family he looks the other way, enough said.

    January 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Buck

    What a strange family with a strange cousin named Mitt. Everything about this guys scares me & it should scare you America but who know most people in this country a willing to over look these crazy folks.

    January 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Victoria Sethunya

    Romney's ads in Spanish portend "use as a means to an end". It is OK to use language to connect to Spanish voters who are in the US while Romney simultaneous sends their cousins home. It is called using others as a means to an end and it only works until you get caught. No comprendo!

    January 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victoria Sethunya

      simultaneously, sorry. Anyone...where is the edit of spellcheck button.

      January 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. norman

    Question for Mitt Romney: Who comes first the church or the nation?

    January 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sean green

    no way, gingrich has the best immigration reform plan and has a better pro life record. Also macho latinos care little about infidelity. And Gingrich is Catholic as well the majority faith of latinos.

    I'm not saying Gingrich is the better candidate i'm just saying Latinos would prefer him.

    January 21, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Thomas

    @ rob

    Did you find those WMDs in Iraq yet ?

    Fast and Furious scandal. Get real !

    January 21, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. Thomas

    @ rob

    "Objective Media" ? Why do you hate Obama so much ?

    January 21, 2012 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. Thomas

    How many wives did his grandfather take down into Mexico ?

    Is that like human trafficking , is that legal , ?

    January 21, 2012 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |
  15. Logic

    I say give Romney a shot. There is nothing wrong with trying out Republican ideas if the Democratic ideas are just inching us more towards the left. I am for neither party, rather, and Independent. So think about this logically... Do we let Obama keep his hold on the White House and continue to destroy what or forefathers have marvelously built? Or do we oust him, and replace him with a man with opposite views. Last time I checked positive is the opposite to negative. Logic...

    January 21, 2012 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Samuel Earl Burnside

      Hint ! What our grandfather built left with the Bush Adm. And Romney has no plateform about our grandfathers. Okay

      We will continue to waste young lives and funding oversea if you vote Romney. And tax cuts for people who can afford to pay. I am done ! The weathly has tax cuts and the poor has welfare ! So, I pay. I will stick with what we have until something better comes alone. You can follow your pipe dream of Romney being an average American middle class.

      Good luck ! Oh. And they want to cut education and not invest in your what your grandfather built....have you been following the issues of just .....

      January 21, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • ARMYCSM

      NO, NO NOOOOOOOO!! Illogical. President Obama is working hard to right this thing. The oher ones wishes to continue with the SAME failed policies that got us into this mess, deregulation, taxe cuts for the wealty and their corporations, fight, fight, fight. Hell to the NO!. They had their chance for eight years, where did they "Republicans" leave us?. Where? remember 2008 when john mccain went back to Washington to help stop the economical bleeding? He couldn't, President Obama suceeded,
      the bleeding has stopped, the wound "they" left us with is healing. I am giving the man who got OBL – my VOTE.

      January 23, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      LOGIC---REPUBLICANS PROBLEMS WITH THE NOT SO RICH PEOPLE ? HOW CAN YOU VOTE GOP WHEN ALL THEY DO IS GIVE THE RICH TAX BREAKS ???? WHY DO THE GOP WANT TO CONTINUE HELPING PEOPLE THAT DO NOT NEED HELP ?? WHY CAN'T GOP HELP THE PEOPLE THAT BADLY NEED HELP ??? SEE WHY I CAN'T VOTE GOP..

      January 24, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  16. rob

    Hey, News Flash for those of you who only read this site or other liberal news sites. " The chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona, Patrick J. Cunningham informed the House Oversight Committee late Thursday through his attorney that he will use the Fifth Amendment protection in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal. Fifth Amendmant rights? To you coolaid drinkers like Rudy NYC and Snifit, that means he wants to protect himself from testimony that may INCRIMINATE him.

    This story just might force itself upon the liberal media this year despite their on going Obama protection mode during the election. We are going to learn alot about our "Objective Media" this year, it should be fun to watch them twist themselves into pretzels keep up appearences.

    Nov. 6 cant come fast enough.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samuel Earl Burnside

      I see you have had the koolaide. When you label news outlets. I just watch them all ! And then form my own ideas. I dont allow parties to shape me. And also...watch and read international outlets.

      But you are concerned about guns. How about the Americans killed overseas and billions we have wasted overseas. Both parties and several Presidents are to blame. Use your head and stop the hate....be open and just read with a subjective pre-disposition. God Bless America...for all Americans...

      January 21, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • ARMYCSM

      What's your point loser? The oversight is your stupidity misinterpring a right wing talking point. Get a life before President BH Obamb's second term:-) You know you are invited to the inauguration huh?

      January 23, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  17. Life long Republican, dismayed by the childish antics.

    You fools just gave the CinC his entire platform no editing require! I will vote Democrat for the first time in three generations, sadly grand pa and dad agree. Now we get to watch the country sink deeper into debt with the food stamp President but it is better than what the GOP is offering. Where is America's champion?

    January 20, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Will

    I want to see Romney's birth certificate.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Noodle Nose Johnson

    "Mitt Romney’s father George – an auto executive, and Michigan governor who also ran for president in the United States – was born nearby, in a town called Colonia Dublan."

    There you have it tea baggers. Romney's father was not born in the US but his parents were, making him eligible to run for President. Now let's here about how Obama was born in Kenya, I could use a good laugh.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  20. keeth

    And turn off immigrant-hating tea partiers?

    January 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  21. shoegazer

    "Senor Romney? No gracias por favor."

    January 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • helen

      In America we speak English.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
      • Victoria Sethunya

        And we have TOLERANCE for those who speak French, remember French Canadians who bring business to Florida. We also have TOLERANCE for those who speak Hebrew, remember the refugee policy Obama Admin just signed to shake backlog in their applications to be in the US. And we speak Spanish too to Spanish business owners from Spain, Mexico who add value to the US economy. Many languages spoken here, indeed.

        January 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
      • rodrigo

        sorry but america is a continent and our continent we speak spanish, french, some small places dutch and the rest spanish

        January 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • ARMYCSM

        @hellen, People like you and your kind ensure that I wil never vote for any republican. I am mixed and speak fluent spanish and perfect english and been around the world several times. Fools like you always show up no matter where I go, there you are!

        January 23, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
      • JOSE0311USMC

        I'M A HISPANIC PR GUY, I GET OFFENDED WHEN THEY SAY, LETS TALK TO THE LATINO PEOPLE IN SPANISH....THIS IS AMERICA, NOT A LATIN COUNTRY....I SERVED IN THE U.S. MARINE FOR 4 YEARS. SERVED 33 YEARS AS A MAIL MAN...I CONSIDER MYSELF AN AMERICAN, NOT A HISPANIC GUY.

        January 24, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Johnson

    He never acknowledged the Hispanics in a good like before, now that he wants to be President he is pandering for their vote. (Horrible)
    Hispanics are NOT dumb.

    Obama 2012

    January 20, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Texas Doc

    Republicans are so dumb. They think that Latinos have forgotten about the hateful stuff their party spews out. A Mexican voting for Romney would be like Jew voting for Hitler. Get real GOP you are the party of old white people; who,if you are paying attention, are not a growing demographic. Good luck with that!

    January 20, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      TEXAS I DISAGREE WITH YOU....GOP ARE FOR ENFORCING THE IMMIGRATION LAWS, NOTHING RACISTS ABOUT THAT. JUST BECAUSE AMERICANS WANT THE IMMIGRATION LAWS ENFORCE DO NOT MAKE THEM RACISTS ...I'M FOR ENFORCING THE THE IMMIGRATION LAWS TO AND I'M A HISPANIC , PR GUY. MANY HISPANICS WANT THE IMMIGRATION LAWS ENFORCE, THEIR JOBS ARE THE ONES THAT IS TAKING BY THE ILLEGALS.

      January 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • Victoria Sethunya

        They have done more than enforce laws. Latinos have been targeted, unfairly. They still need to get after Latonos who were deported while working and were forced to leave their wages behind. Laws of this country donot make it ok to hire people so that they can leave wages behind.

        The country also needs laws on the books to answer to the current situation. You cannot apply laws you do not have. Many laws on the books do not address immigration computer violations and mistakes caused by those in government offices.

        January 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      TEXAS-–THE FACT IS THAT AMERICA IS BEING INVADED BY MEXICANS, BY PEOPLE FROM SOUTH AMERICA , ARE WE RACISTS BECAUSE WE DO NOT WANT OUR COUNTRY INVADED ?? NO... TERRORISTS ARE COMING TO THE U.S. VIA MEXICAN BORDER... THEY FLY TO SOUTH AMERICAN COUNTRIES THAT DO NOT REQUIRE A PASS PORT AND FROM THEIR THEY MADE THEIR WAY TO THE U.S. BOLIVIA IS ONE OF THOSE COUNTRIES THEY FLY TO... SECURING THE BORDER MUST BE DONE TO PREVENT TERRORISTS FROM GETTING IN.

      January 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Senora Gringa

    Toro de caca. The problem Romney and many in the GOP have is that they vilify Hispanics as being all immigrants, mostly illegal or only first generation anchor babies, which, oddly enough, is a term that could be applied to Mitt. Then they have the nerve to ask for their votes! Punch with one hand and ask for a handshake with the other? No way. My hubby's ancestors were sitting under the cacti in Az way before mine came over from Dublin. I'm the one you should ask for papers, not him.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Juan Valdez

    “Instead of respecting the diversity of the Latino community, Democrats have decided to attack Hispanics and divide the Latino community, ..." Inclan said.

    I stopped reading right there. If this is Romney's Hispanic front guard, he's in trouble. The fact of the matter is that Hispanics don't need Gutierrez (D) or Inclan (R) or any other pol to tell them what's happening to them in this country on the social front. Romney + Kris Kobach = la la la la la, we can't HEAR YOU!

    What a poorly run race, Mr. Romney. If this is moderation, no thanks.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |