TAMPA, FL – Latino voters may give Mitt Romney the edge he needs against Republican rival Newt Gingrich. The former governor’s stance on immigration policy, and his business acumen may be enough to derail the former Speaker of the House’s post South Carolina momentum.
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, Romney leads Gingrich by 9 points among likely voters in the Sunshine State, according to the Los Angeles Times. While Tea Party members favor the elder statesman by a 2-1 margin over the ex-Massachusetts Gov., it is the Latino vote that is fueling the lead.
In early January, Romney held a comfortable lead over his GOP rival. But after Newt Gingrich’s upset victory in South Carolina, thanks to the conservative base, the tables were turned.
But now he is struggling to maintain credibility in a diverse state that he desperately needs in order to capture the Republican Party’s nomination ahead of the GOP convention in Tampa.
The state of Florida boasts about 1.2 million Republican Latino voters. Any candidate, who expects to make a run against incumbent Pres. Barack Obama, must garner their support.
By all accounts, Gov. Mitt Romney has taken advantage of some critical points in this campaign, namely his stance on immigration policy. And it is likely that Newt Gingrich’s strategy on characterizing his rival as an “anti-immigrant,” has backfired.
Using a series of radio ads in Tampa and key Florida cities, interviews, and town hall meetings, the former Speaker labeled Romney as a candidate bent against illegal immigrants at any cost.
But it appears the public – and even some influential leaders in Congress – have come out against the toxic immigration policy talk and negative media campaign Gingrich is using to make up ground against a surging Romney.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, of Utah’s Tea Party said other Republicans “don’t want to be on the ballot with Newt Gingrich.” He said the very idea that the ex-Speaker could lead the ticket in the 2012 elections “scares the living daylights out of me.” A Gingrich victory, he said, would damage the chances in the GOP taking back the Senate.
Latino voters ahead of the Republican 2012 Florida Primary believe that Romney could be a choice for president, citing a number of reasons.
According to a survey among Latino and Hispanic voters, the former governor leads 49% to his rival’s 29%.
Many point not only to the damaging negative ads on undocumented immigrant workers by Gingrich; they believe the country needs a president with a strong business background.
Miami public relations and marketing firm owner Frank Diaz said, “I was for Herman Cain, then when he dropped out, I switched to Mitt Romney. I am sympathetic to business owners.”
Mark Garces, another Florida voter, said this about the surging governor:
“Romney is strong among Latino Republicans because he was a very inclusive governor of Massachusetts. Romney is a proven leader with business acumen. The Hispanic community here is very diverse, but if there’s one thing that drives them, it’s hard work.”
Will Mitt Romney’s favorable immigration policy and business acumen be enough to capture the Latino vote over Newt Gingrich ahead of the 2012 Florida Primary?
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© 2011 Bruce Baker, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author or Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a modenook.com
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