President Obama is on his way to winning more Latino votes today than any other presidential candidate in history. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, could end up with the smallest share of Latino votes garnered by any Republican or Democratic presidential candidate since Bob Dole.
Obama has the support of 70 percent of likely Latino voters, while Romney has just 25. This should come as no surprise given that Romney has, during the primaries, come across as fiercely anti-immigrant, particularly through his harsh tones about "illegal aliens," his support for Arizona's discriminatory anti-immigration law, his vow to veto the DREAM Act (which would give undocumented students a chance to legalize their status), and the absurd idea of "self-deportation."
Romney has also voiced his opposition to stricter gun control laws; many Latinos, who are among those most impacted by gun violence, were disturbed by this, especially in light of the recent mass shooting in the the Aurora, Colorado movie theater. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, even more Latinos favor strict gun laws than African-Americans and Caucasians.
The Republican candidate is just as bad on terrorism and foreign policy, despite his accusations of Obama being soft on Iran and Islamic regimes (ignoring the fact that the Obama administration has killed al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran).
Many Latinos in the military, who are wary of unnecessary wars, are not happy about Romney's Republican Party platform seeking out new U.S. military adventures. Romney has called for an increase in the military budget by $100 billion by 2016.
A clear candidate for the rich, Romney has incensed Latinos on his economic viewpoints, on his positions of lowering taxes for millionaires and loosening banking regulations for Wall Street, and his vicious attacks against the Obamacare law, which provides health care for all Americans and prohibits insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illnesses.
Perhaps above all else, Romney's secretly videotaped tirade during a fundraiser, where he said that 47 percent of voters are lazy and dependent on government subsidies, and therefore unimportant to him, have reinforced the Obama campaign's suggestion that Romney simply doesn't care about the poor. "My job is not to worry about those people," Romney said in the infamous video.
As Romney continues to embrace the far Right, champion anti-immigration zealots, deregulate Wall Street, and continuously flip-flop on critical issues, depending on which political positions benefit his campaign, Latinos will not support the Republican's blatant carelessness and hypocrisy.
But the big question, many believe, is whether the 70 percent of Latinos who support Obama will come out to vote on Tuesday, or stay home. The election - and the political power of Latinos in the near future - may be riding on the answer to that question.
Much of this article is taken from portions of a piece by Andres Oppenheimer/The Miami Herald.
Photo: Campaign staffers hand out signs that read, "Latinos for Obama" in Commence Ciy, Colorado. Flickr