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Opinion: What Latinos want from candidates? Respect
Mitt Romney addresses the Latino Coalition's 2012 Small Business Summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on May 23.
June 1st, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Opinion: What Latinos want from candidates? Respect

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN.com contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist. 

By Ruben Navarrette Jr. , CNN Contributor

San Diego, California (CNN) - For anyone who wants to make a serious play for the Latino vote - and not just go through the motions - here's what you need to know: Latinos are single-issue voters.

The issue is respect. Or, as we say, respeto. Nothing else matters. If you want the votes of Latinos, show some respect. Or we'll show you the door.

I know what you're thinking. What's so special about this constituency?

Three things: Size, geography and unpredictability. In 2008, about 10 million Latinos voted; the 2012 figure could be higher. Latinos are well represented in "battleground" states (i.e. Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico). And, in the case of the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans who make up about 66% of the U.S. Latino population, they're in play because they have shown a willingness to vote for moderate Republicans even though most are registered Democrats.

Polls show that Latinos are just like other voters in that they care about education, jobs, the economy and health care. But their antennae go up when they see politicians using the immigration issue to scare up votes - and, in the process, treating them like piñatas.

Read Ruben Navarette Jr.'s full commentary

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Jorge

    Actually, most of us Hispanic-descent American citizens, knowing politicians and political types for what they really are, just want them to stay out of our way...PLEASE.

    June 12, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. yikes

    npr reports today 49% of Arizona population don't speak English, which is putting strain on state. mexicans interviewed about their inability to get translators complained about not getting the "free" justice system translator. are mexicans the most back ass-ward people on the planet or what!

    June 11, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DDNAE

    I had so much respect for america and admired the american people for the great country they had buildt and how it was called the melting pot, but now when i see all the comment against latinos i have lost all my respect for this so called great country.

    June 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rational Arizona GOP

    Mr Ruben is absolutely correct. Today's illegal immigrants in America were RECRUITED here by corporate america. I am an Anglo who lives in Arizona and I can tell you that these folks came here at the request of the large restaurant and hotel chains, the food industry, agriculture industry, and construction industry. These employers actively solicited these workers through word of mouth in Mexico. These workers do the jobs that "American Born" unskilled labor is unwilling to do, and for us to treat them with the lack of respect exhibited by the right wing politicians (whose funding comes from the very corporations that recruited this undocumented workforce) is an abomination. The correct path is to let these folks come forward, obtain a green card, and come and go when work is available. In addition, their children who were born here are Americans and that is never going to change. Punishing their children who were not born here is akin to jailing the children of DUI recipients...the kids are innocent. We would never lobby to punish the child who is in a vehicle when their parents get pulled over for DUI. Why then do some think its OK to punish these Dream Act kids? For the sake of the GOP, we need to allow these workers who were recruited to American to remain here legally. Its the correct thing to do..my fellow GOPers need to look in the mirror and accept our responsibility for these immigrants whom we recruited here, embrace them, and treat them as human beings. They are not going anywhere..they put down roots in the USA because they were invited here by Corporate America. And every GOP politician knows it. So its time to have an honest reckoning and accept our responsibility to treat these folks with respect. Their friends and relatives who are legally documented voters know all this better than anyone....and rightfully are very angry with any politician who would portray these facts differently for political gain.

    June 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Stormy

    RUBEN: Latinos dont respect America when they support anything illegal.......as in ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. We are a country of LAW, and the law says, you come here illegally, you get no respect and no amnesty. Come here legally like the thousands of people from India, the UK, China and elsewhere, and you get RESPECT. Why should a PHD scientist from India pay $10,000 and wait 10 years to get a work visa, but some poor Mexican criminal comes here, breaks laws and has babies and expects instant citizenship.......will never happen and never get amnesty, from Obama or Romney. Just check their records my friend. Crawl across the border and stand in line for a work visa just like the rest of America. Then you will get American respect!

    June 3, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dick Hertz

    Who cares what Latinos want? This is America. We care what Americans want. Maybe Latinos should try marching in step?

    June 2, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
    • kaytravis

      Who are voters? Americans! American citizens! "Latinos" who vote ARE citizens. Do you care, Mr. Hertz, if you are disrespected by candidates? Of course you do. End of comment!

      June 2, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Stormy

      Right on. Its United States of America, not "United Latinos of America".

      June 3, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      Marching in step with what? With you??? Pssh, that would be so LAME...

      June 5, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. Joey

    Navarette is a pro-illegal alien single-issue OBSESSED racist. He doesn't care about the economy or anything else, he just whines about the right for wanting respect or in Spanish "respeto" out of people who come here and rants constantly about how much he loves illegals and how we should reward them for breaking the law with every word he says.
    Thank GOD you don't have to deal with this racist weirdo who complains about white people even though he looks white outside of the CNN website most of the time. He does NOT speak for all Hispanics.

    June 2, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      He doesn't care about American citizens at all. Only people who break our laws and come here illegally.

      June 2, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
      • Jorge

        Hell, I'm a Hispanic American citizen, and I don't care about "American citizens" at all, except for the ones who are my wife and kids. I don't care about the plight of illegals either, because I have my job, my mortgage and other, more important fish to fry, but if you try to cut me off with your bigotry, it's on. Mind your own business, and I'll mind mine.

        June 5, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Stormy

      When you care more about your race and your little feelings getting hurt more than you do America and the issues Americans of all nationalities care about, you are no longer an American citizen, Ruben. When will your race transcend who you are like the rest of America???

      June 3, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ellen Thompson

    It's interesting how you had this "opinion piece" as your lead story less than an hour ago. But after the hundres, if not thousands of comments opposing your author's liberal views on illegal immigration, you pull the story and erase all of the comments. Well done CNN!

    June 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |