Republicans underestimated the value of minorities… Who’s the loser now?

One look at the Democratic Convention 2012 and you could tell which party is more inclusive of all minorities

Once upon a time, Mitt Romney had a chance with minorities; the very same chance that President Obama had. Actually, he had a better chance. Latinos, Asians and other minorities closely following immigration issues had grown disappointed with the president. You see, Obama promised comprehensive immigration reform during his first campaign and instead he delivered more deportations during his administration than President Bush.

Republicans haaaaaaad a chance.

But during the course of the campaign, Republicans and Romney seemed increasingly eager to lose millions of votes, the same votes that ended up giving four more years to the incumbent.

What happened and how the campaign managers messed up so badly? Romney for America and the RNC did not correctly analyzed, strategized and launched a marketing and communications campaign customized for each particular segment.

As the Global Editor of Contacto Latino, this is what I experienced:
1. While both sides did almost nothing by way of advertising and true community outreach to minorities; Republicans and Romney seemed particularly bent on doing a terrible job with Latinos whenever they could. Some examples:
a)    Press releases that indicated Spanish on subject line that were, in fact, in English
b)    Bad or inaccurate  translations
c)    No response to op-ed invitations
d)    No response to advertising invitations
e)    Asking to run ads for free (as PR, not advertising)
f)    Little or no inclusion of minorities in campaign leadership
g)    Little or no budget allocated to doing business with the community
h)    Disregard (should I say disdain?) for minority media
2. (Romney) Calling 47% of Americans, millions of which are minorities, parasites.
3. (Romney) Mentioning his Mexican family as leverage to make himself pass as just another Latino.
4. (Romney) Proposing an immigration reform that only took into consideration legal immigration, while basically telling 11 million undocumented immigrants: “Screw you, you now have to self-deport.”
5. (Romney) Telling DREAMers that he will never approve the DREAM Act.
6. (Romney) Saying after the election that President Obama “bought” the minority vote with small tokens of activity, such as the deferred deportation for undocumented youth.
7. Trying to use Obama’s endorsement (was it?) by President Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa to scare Latino voters into thinking that the USA will become like Venezuela or Ecuador, underestimating Latino’s first-hand knowledge of how a socialist country or dictatorship actually looks and feels.

The Democrats campaign did not do much better in terms of media buys but President Obama benefitted the most of community outreach efforts to get out the vote and from doing something customers appreciate very much when being courted: not being insulted.

The day after election Republicans started changing their tone and their tune, even getting into the Latino serenading bandwagon as they saw that the only way to reclaim the White House is to go through the barrios (I can see them cringing in horror when they came to that realization) and they heard reelected President Obama speaking about immigration reform as top priority.

My message to Republicans, that is if they have not seceded: Better start working ya’ll, four years go faster than you imagine, and if President Obama finally delivers the twice promised immigration reform, you better hope it’s a bipartisan agreement or it’s pa’fuera with this party.

And, yes, when you come knocking at the door of the Latino community, it better not have the look and feel of a 1970s campaign. We are way past being happy with a bad translation and a few words of masticao Spanish. Latinos want and deserve top of the line advertising, marketing and communications. I think this election clearly demonstrated that much.

Can a Republican group really make USA an immigrant-friendly country?

Once upon a time all Republicans were immigrant-haters (as far as I and millions of I’s were concerned). Then I came across a tagline that caught my attention: “Café con Leche GOP: Republicans for an America that welcomes immigrants.”


Is this a ruse? Is this a joke?, I said to myself. I had to speak to the boss of this organization. Republicans and immigrant-friendly are words that probably never have crossed paths.

So we spoke.

Well, according to Bob Quasius, founder and president of Café con Leche Republicans, that’s exactly what his group’s objective is.

A spin-off from Somos Republicans, Quasius believes that leaving the GOP is not a solution. What he wants to do instead is change minds within the party and, by doing that, attracting immigrants into the fold.

“We’re a diverse group of Republicans who believe America and the GOP in particular need to become much more welcoming to immigrants. The current climate for all immigrants is becoming more hostile by the day, which is not healthy for anybody. We believe the GOP is missing an opportunity to attract many conservative or moderate voters who are immigrants or members of groups with a high percentage of immigrants, such as Hispanics and Asians,” says Quasius.

A few years ago Quasius, not an immigrant himself, favored enforcement only as the way to take care of the flow of immigrants coming into the country.

Then cupid hit.

Quasius fell in love with a woman from Honduras and had a face-to-face with the reality of the immigration system in the United States.

Even though he did not have a horrific experience, the steps and missteps of navigating the outdated system were enough to open his eyes and win him as a pro-immigrant activist.

And he says that there are many more just like him.

Quasius says that, unlike most Republicans we’ve come to know and cringe about, there are members of the GOP that support comprehensive immigration reform and even a path to citizenship.

“Most of who we see out there ‘representing’ the Republicans are actually extremists acting from the fringes. They are not representative of us,” Quasius says.

Café con Leche offers a practical approach to immigration: in addition to comprehensive immigration reform they advocate a complete system overhaul. One that addresses core problems and solves the issues by offering a legal immigration system that keeps up with U.S. demographics and market needs.

“Our nation’s problem with illegal immigration is an economic problem, not an enforcement problem. The current emphasis on “enforcement on steroids” is not a solution, and only harms American businesses that need unskilled labor, businesses that need highly skilled professionals, as well as immigrant families that are literally being ripped apart,” says Quasius.

Café con Leche admits it is not practical to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and the system of legal immigration is so slow and burdensome it makes it almost impossible to immigrate the “right way.”

After his experience processing his fiancé’s visa, Bob Quasius realized what millions in this country already know: The government requires you to do something and then makes it impossible to do it.

“Legal immigrants wait far too long to immigrate to the U.S., and low quotas for highly skilled professionals result in exporting jobs overseas when U.S. companies can’t get the workers they need. For example, the number of foreign graduate students who receive advanced degrees each year exceeds the number of guest worker visas for highly skilled professionals,” the president of Café con Leche GOP explains.

Quasius states that it is a small number of politicians that make outrageous statements or proposals, but it is those that end up making it to the media.

Immigration and Political views (1) Source: Pew Research Center

“We don’t believe the GOP or even most tea party groups have been “hijacked” by nativists, and in fact a recent Pew Research study shows that a majority of Republicans support immigration reform, including a path to legalization. The political processes that nominate candidates and determine party platforms are democratic, and anyone who identifies with a political party can have a voice. Why give up that voice?,” he declares.

Ultimately, Café con Leche GOP aims to educate Republicans regarding New Americans and their issues, and to improve the current perception immigrants have of the party.

Immigration and Political views (2) Source: Pew Research Center

They are also preparing to support moderate Republicans in state and local elections and weed out the extremists

“We won’t hesitate to call out Nativists who burrow their way into the GOP and tea party movement, while pointing out only a small minority of Republicans are truly Nativists or politicians who pander extensively to Nativists. Most Republicans, including most who oppose immigration reform are decent,  compassionate individuals, who have been misled by the true villains, who are the Nativists and population control progressives who spread their propaganda to drive a wedge between Americans and immigrants, and make American a less welcoming place for immigrants,” says Quasius.

He adds that while they don’t have a definite GOP presidential hopeful they’d like to endorse, they know they won’t support Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann. They are also building a list of nativists and panderers to defeat in 2012. They shared their partial list with Contacto Latino.

Once upon a time (in 2008) it was the Democrats who promised to deliver comprehensive immigration reform. Three years later, and worse than ever, I do hope Café con Leche gets the attention of both Republicans and Democrats for the sake of a country that is pulled by ideologies that belong in museums and demagogues who profit from it all.

List of Nativists and Panderers to Defeat in 2012

State                       Candidate Background
California Tim Donnelly Founder, California Minutemen. Has introduced anti-immigrant legislation.
Florida William Snyder Author of Florida’s Arizona-style bill
Georgia Matthew Ramsey Author of Georgia’s Arizona-style law
Indiana Mike Delph Author of Indiana’s Arizona-style law
Oklahoma Randy Terrill Nativist
Pennsylvania Daryl Metcalfe Founder of State Legislators for Legal Immigration, an affiliate of FAIR. Extreme Nativist!
South Carolina Danny Verdin Nativist
South Dakota Manny Steele Author of both Arizona style and birthright citizenship bills
Texas Lamar Smith Introduced extreme immigration laws
Texas Debbie Riddle Introduced extreme immigration laws
Texas Leo Berman Introduced extreme immigration laws
Utah Stephen Sandstrom Author of Utah’s Arizona-style law

Countdown to getting the Latino vote… will Obama win the future?

It’s show time!!! At a little over a year before the 2012 elections, candidates will start “amping up” their sweet little “nothings” right about “trick or treat” time in October.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanics voted for Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden over Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin by a margin of more than two-to-one in the 2008 presidential election, 67% versus 31%, according to an analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of exit polls from Edison Media Research as published by CNN.

The current Latino population, at an all-time high of a little over 50 million people, has about 15 million registered voters at this time. With a push from Tequila Party, Voto Latino, Democracia USA, Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project and other voter registration organizations, that number could become a 20 million potential grab for the candidate that plans ahead and shows with actions, not words, what would he or she be like as elected president.

Disappointed by the Obama administration and the politics of “espérate un ratito, espérate un ratito”, Latinos are rethinking allegiance to a president they helped get to the White House, only to be left at the door… the back door… waiting and waiting for the promises of candidate Obama to become reality.

“With the slow economy, deportation-only immigration enforcement, jobs hard to find, and schools not as good as they should be, Hispanic voters are looking for someone who will fight for them because they are feeling under siege. It takes more than promises and a few words in Spanish. It takes sustained commitment to fighting for the underdog and standing with working class and middle class families when they are under attack and struggling to get by,” says Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), who just a few weeks ago got himself arrested while protesting deportation policies in front of the White House.

Soured by one million deportations in the last three years, more campaign-style promises during speeches y luego nada, angered by legislation that further attacks and racially profiles ethnic communities (and not only undocumented immigrants), Latinos have had it with the blatant lies and are looking for actual answers.

No more saying one thing and doing another, no more showing the ring but not announcing the wedding date, no more playing to both sides of Congress, no more “espera un poco… un poquito más…”

While not all Latinos vote Democrat, the Latino Democrat vote, at 67%, gave Obama the needed edge to win in 2008. That’s a fact that may not repeat itself next year.

Janet Murguía, executive director of The National Council of La Raza cautions that what is done today may have repercussions well into the future. “Do take the Latino vote seriously. Latinos are not only the fastest-growing population in the U.S., they are also the fastest-growing voter bloc. The Census results released this spring found that one in six Americans is Latin. More than one in four Americans under the age of 18 is Latino, 93 percent of whom are U.S. citizens. According to Democracia U.S.A., this means that half a million Latinos will turn 18 each year for the next 20 years,” Murguía pointed out.

DeeDee García Blasé, former Somos Republicanos president and founder and president of The Tequila Party says that in order for the GOP to win Latino support, GOP Senators must work with Senator Menendez’s secure borders and legal immigration bill.

“Their dismal record with what occurred in December 2010 regarding the DREAM Act created a tremendous loss of Hispanic Republicans. Somos Republicans is the largest Latino Republican group in the nation, and we saw significant membership loss fall off the cliff. That said, Obama must also take a healthy hint from Congressman Luis Gutierrez.  Luis is considered a hero on the immigration front and he has influence with Latino Democrats that can alter Obama’s presidency if President Obama does not take heed,” says García Blasé.

Next year does not look as an easy win for the Commander-In-Chief. A Gallup poll released over the weekend showed that Obama’s job rating is now at 39%.

And although comprehensive immigration reform is an important issue, Latinos do not worry only about immigration. As for most, the top issue today is the economy. Latino unemployment is at 11.6%. And according to an analysis released by the Pew Research Center, median wealth for Latino households decreased by an alarming 66 percent between 2005 and 2009.

“Immigration is certainly an issue Latinos will need to hear about, in addition to other issues. Hispanics are concerned for the most part with the same issues about which most Americans are concerned: jobs, the economy, education – a chance at the American Dream. Candidates need to clearly articulate their positions on these key matters and convince Latinos how their past work and policies will translate into more opportunities and a better quality of life for them,” pointed out Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

Last week, The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda released their progress report on the administration and Congress for 2009 and 2010. They give them, all of them, a barely passing grade.

“The decisions made in Washington in the coming months will have a lasting impact on the Latino community. Our progress report documents some of the achievements that have been made to help Latinos survive through the Great Recession. Congress, the new super committee, and the Administration should take lessons from this report and know that deep cuts to programs that have kept families working and in their homes cannot be sacrificed during their negotiations. Our focus should be on building the economy – not hurting Americans by slashing safety net programs,” said Lillian Rodriguez López, Chair of NHLA and President of the Hispanic Federation.

Will we see improvement in the months before elections? Anything that would change our minds?

The latest showdown at the Congress OK Corral over the debt-ceiling and the subsequent downgrade of the U.S’s credit rating did not help either side get future branding points.

“The campaign so far has not been promising. Few, if any, of the Republican candidates have set up Latino-focused initiatives within their campaigns. More disturbingly, no one has spoken out about the toxic atmosphere confronting Latinos today. Even worse, some have rushed to support the slew of draconian state immigration laws that do nothing to solve our problems, but do plenty to exacerbate racial profiling and harassment of immigrants and American citizens,” said Janet Murguia, Executive Director of NCLR.

Ads released in Spanish by both camps seem like a translation of what a general ad would look like, and not a specific campaign to draw the Latino vote.

And a Republican ad bashing President Obama does not do any better. It just reminds us of how bitter and hateful Republicans can be.

At this point Latinos, especially those who vote on the candidate and not the party affiliation are left without a clear direction or preferred candidate. Will we be hoodwinked again with “trick” or will we be given “treat”? The clock is ticking.

Video: Spanish ad launched by DNC

Video: Republican ad launched by Crossroads GPS, a conservative organization founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove


Video: RNC ad


Seven debate for GOP candidacy

On Monday, June 13th, seven Republicans debated for two hours during the first televised GOP presidential debate of the 2012 election campaign. The event took place in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Obama is not doing a good job
If there’s something the seven agreed upon was that the economy is the first thing that needs fixing when a new president takes over in 2013.

Businessman Herman Cain said that he “would do the right thing and not what’s politically correct.” In regard to bailouts of big corporations, he stated that “the Government should not be choosing winners or losers. Let businesses fail,” he said.

Cain also said he supports the idea of Personal Retirement Accounts, such as the one in Chile, and he explained that increasing the retirement age wouldn’t solve the social security problem.

Pawlenty spoke for entrepreneurs and to get the government “off the back” of employers, so that they can invest in setting up jobs in America.

Gingrich said that Right to Work States are creating more jobs than those heavily unionized.

Romney said that Obama is “not leading on job creation, government spending or balancing the budget.” He also wondered how is it possible that the president is not laying out a plan to take care of those critical issues.

“Keep the government in its place and let the creativity of the American people drive the economy,” Romney said. “It’s immoral to pass on these huge amounts of debt to our children,” he stated.

Santorum stated he is in favor of cutting the capital gains tax and he said he would approach issues as president “using faith and reason.”

Regarding Obama Care, Bachmann promised she would bring the “mother of all repeals” and Romney defended his State health care plan arguing that if Obama based his plans on the Governor’s, he should have asked him about implementation. “I wish he would have called me, because everything he did was wrong,” he explained.

Most outlandish but smart remarks
Ron Paul showed his wit and did not hold back during the debate. He asked for the government to “do fewer things, much sooner.” Regarding health care reform, he asked: “why can we opt altogether out of the (Obama Care) system?” He also said that the country would be better off without the interference of government in the business world and that instead of securing the borders in Iraq and Afghanistan, we should be securing the U.S. borders.

Unfortunate remarks during first presidential debate
Businessman Cain got himself in trouble when he stated he would not be comfortable with a Muslim in his cabinet and that he would ask certain questions to Muslims, and not to Americans, to make sure they are committed to the country’s Constitution.

Gingrich followed with: “If you are not prepared to be loyal to America, you cannot serve in my administration.”

Cain also stated that he is against birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants and that he would encourage each State to do what they need to do to enforce immigration laws.

Best announcement moment
In the middle of answering a question, Congresswoman Bachmann announced she will be announcing her candidacy soon.

Republican presidential hopefuls
Tim Pawlenty – Served as 39th Governor of Minnesota.
Newt Gingrich – Served as 58th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
Michele Bachmann – Current US House of Representatives for Minnesota’s 6th congressional district.
Mitt Romney – Served as 70th Governor of Massachusetts.
Ron Paul – Current U.S. Congresman for the 14th congressional district of Texas
Rick Santorum – Served as United States Senator for Pennsylvania.
Herman Cain – Former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.