Obama, GOP Begin Major Push for Hispanic Voters

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  April 18, 2012 at 9:38 AM EST

President Obama; photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Obama and his rivals launched major initiatives Wednesday to reach out to Hispanic voters. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

The next stage in identity politics has arrived, with both President Obama’s campaign and the Republican Party making a major push to win over the growing number of Hispanic voters in major battleground states.

Team Obama’s effort kicked off Wednesday with a series of Spanish-language television and radio ads showing supporters sharing their personal stories and saying that President Obama improved their lives and their communities. The spots will run in Colorado, Nevada and Florida.

The ads tell voters that Mr. Obama improved Head Start centers serving more than 362,000 Hispanic children and that the administration doubled funding for the Pell Grant system to help “nearly 2 million Hispanic students pay for college.” Watch the ads here, here, here and here.

The campaign also is launching “Latinos for Obama,” which it calls “the largest ever national effort to engage Latino Americans in their communities and involve them in the upcoming election through voter registration, volunteering and voting.” It is an expansion of the Operation Vote program started last year, a campaign spokesman said, and will include ad buys, field organizing and Latinos for Obama house parties across the country.

Team Obama also will dispatch surrogates who will attack presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney as someone who has an unappealing record on immigration issues.

The move comes just after the Republican National Committee announced its own effort to reach out to Hispanic voters.

Republicans have hired six outreach directors focused on the push in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told reporters the directors will work with national Hispanic outreach director Bettina Inclan to engage Latino voters “in spreading the Republican message and important Get Out the Vote efforts.” The GOP argues that even though Mr. Obama is winning among Latinos, the group is disproportionately hurt by the lagging economy and is disappointed in the president.

Karen Tumulty has more on this topic in the Washington Post.

She writes that Romney acknowledged at a fundraiser in Palm Beach, Fla., over the weekend that he has some work to do:

Romney told supporters that “we have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party” and warned that a big win of that group by Obama “spells doom for us.”

THE POLLS KEEP COMING

The latest general election snapshot to emerge Wednesday came from the New York Times and CBS News, whose poll showed Mr. Obama and Romney tied nationally among registered voters at 46 percent each.

The same survey last month had the president narrowly edging the former Massachusetts governor 47 percent to 44 percent.

Dalia Sussman of the Times details some of the poll’s other findings:

[T]he poll continues to show a lack of strong enthusiasm among many Republican voters for Mr. Romney’s candidacy. One in three say they would enthusiastically support him in November. That’s hardly a resounding endorsement from the party faithful. Perhaps reflecting the prolonged nature of the Republican nominating contest, more Republican primary voters, 4 in 10, say they will support him but with reservations, while another 18 percent say they will support him only because he is the Republican nominee and 8 percent say they will not support him. Evangelical Christians are far more likely than others to say they have reservations about him.

The close race on display in the Times/CBS poll was reflected in two of the surveys we mentioned Tuesday — a Reuters/Ipsos poll giving the president a 47 percent to 43 percent lead and the first Gallup Daily Tracking poll that put Romney up, 47 percent to 45 percent. (A CNN survey had Mr. Obama ahead by nine percentage points, 52 to 43 percent.)

A Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday, meanwhile, had the president at 49 percent and Romney at 45 percent, down from a 12-point lead last month.

The president outperforms Romney among women in the Pew survey by a 53 percent to 40 percent margin, which mirrors the results from CNN (55 percent to 39 percent in favor of Mr. Obama) and Reuters (51 percent to 37 percent). The CNN and Reuters surveys were taken in the aftermath of the controversy over comments made by Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen about Ann Romney.

Taken together, the polls highlight one of the key challenges for Romney six-and-a-half months from Election Day: figuring out how to woo skeptical, conservative voters while appealing to independent voters who are either just tuning in or were turned off by some of the positions he took during the drawn-out nominating fight.

TALKING TAXES

Gwen Ifill reported Tuesday about tax day and Capitol Hill’s push to make it political. The piece included Romney’s meeting Tuesday in Pennsylvania with a small group of voters at a backyard event staged like a picnic. He told them he frets that what the campaigns often spend the most time discussing is “irrelevant to what you care about most.” He said some of the mundane political issues “divert our attention from that which matters most, which is keeping this nation our engine of economic vitality.”

Romney also said Democrats are unfairly saying he wants to give tax cuts to the rich. “I’m going to keep the burden on high income people, the same share it is today,” he said. “My focus is not on punishing people, my focus is on getting jobs.”

Watch the segment here or below.

Next, Jeffrey Brown moderated a discussion with the Brookings Institution’s Alice Rivlin and the Tax Policy Center’s Donald Marron about whether tax reform is even possible.

Watch that here or below.

In honor of tax day, the Romney campaign released another of its infographics, this one suggesting that government spending is out of control.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Mitt Romney announced the endorsement of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Wednesday. In a statement released by the Romney campaign, Daniels said: “Mitt Romney has earned our party’s nomination and now deserves the support of every American still committed to government that serves the people rather than rules over them.”

  • Christina talked with Gwen for this week’s Political Checklist about Indiana losing its swing state status and the veepstakes we find tough to resist. Watch that here.

  • Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., is conducting a poll on his Senate Conservatives Fund website asking supporters who they think should be on the GOP ticket with Romney this fall.

  • Michael Barbaro and Ashley Parker of the New York Times profile Beth Myers, the longtime Romney confidant charged with heading up the candidate’s search for a running mate.

  • Rick Santorum is playing coy about when — or whether — he will endorse Romney, Politico reports.

  • The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz talks with Romney’s friends about the campaign’s efforts to “loosen him up,” including putting the candidate “in more relaxed settings to bring out his affable side.”

  • House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, endorsed Romney, telling reporters the Republican would be able to “contrast sharply” with the president this fall. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., followed suit.

  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett endorsed Romney, prompting the Democratic National Committee to put out a new web video charging that Romney is out of touch because of Corbett’s record on women’s issues. Watch that here.

  • Romney made a direct appeal to Tea Party activists in Philadelphia this week.

  • First lady Michelle Obama spoke at an Air Force base outside Pittsburgh that’s slated to close next year and was greeted by protests.

  • Remarks made by rock star Ted Nugent at last weekend’s National Rifle Association convention have sparked outcries from Democrats and forced the Romney campaign to respond.

  • A new poll from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling finds the president leading Romney in Florida, 50 percent to 45 percent. The left-leaning pollster writes it is “the biggest lead Obama’s had in Florida over the course of five polls PPP’s done in the state since the beginning of 2011.” The boost is thanks to his own popularity increasing.

  • PPP also looked ahead to 2016 and found the Democratic nomination would be “Hillary Clinton’s for the taking if she wants it.” The secretary of state has a strong favorability rating and wins with basically every demographic, the national poll found. Vice President Joe Biden places second in the field. Should either of them not run, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo leads with 27 percent among lesser known contenders. On the GOP side, PPP writes, “There’s a clear top tier consisting of Chris Christie at 21% and Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush at 17%.” PPP also finds, “It seems unlikely Santorum would be the front runner in a repeat bid.”

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Arizona voters selected the candidates for June’s special election to fill former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ seat. Republican Jesse Kelly, the candidate who narrowly lost to Giffords in 2010, will face Giffords’ former aide, Ron Barber.

  • Marco Rubio talked to the Associated Press about his plan for a GOP version of the DREAM Act, saying, “We have to come up with an immigration system that honors both our legacy as a nation of laws and also our legacy as a nation of immigrants.”

  • Roll Call’s Heard on the Hill collects photos taken by members of Congress of the shuttle flying around Washington Tuesday.

  • NewsHour coordinating producer Linda Scott reports from Capitol Hill that the Republican-led House is set to vote this week on a tax proposal that the GOP says will lower tax rates for business owners. The legislation would provide for a 20 percent tax deduction to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. As Senate Republicans blocked the “Buffett Rule” in that chamber on Monday, Senate Democrats have vowed to do the same once the House legislation reaches the Senate. Both bills, however, are more about election-year politics than members actually hoping to pass something.

  • The North Carolina Democratic Party is facing a power shake-up amid a possible scandal tied to a settlement with a former party employee. The Raleigh News and Observer reports on claims of sexual harassment, the resignation of the party executive director and calls for the state party chair to resign.

  • A Democratic Senate candidate in North Dakota deleted a video that showed her praising Mr. Obama.

  • The American Legislative Exchange Council is shifting its strategy after more than a month of scrutiny from liberal organizations.

  • The National Republican Congressional Committee had $27.1 million in the bank as of March 31. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had $22.8 million.

  • The DCCC has reserved $32 million in fall ad buys against 26 GOP incumbents, Politico reports.

  • Both Roll Call’s Abby Livingston and the Hill’s Josh Lederman write about former President Bill Clinton’s involvement in campaigns this year. The theme? The Democrats he likes helped his wife’s presidential bid.

  • The Associated Press reports that the woman “pulled from her burning home by Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker says she would be dead if he hadn’t come to her rescue and feels ‘blessed.’”

  • Kai Ryssdal from American Public Media’s “Marketplace” rings up the man behind Ben Bernanke’s immaculate beard.

  • ProPublica breaks down the difference between pink slime and white slime.

NewsHour reporter-producer Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama holds a roundtable at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, at 1:55 p.m. and delivers remarks on the economy at 2:30 p.m. He then travels to Michigan for two campaign fundraising events — in Dearborn at 6 p.m. and in Bingham Farms at 7:50 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney speaks in Charlotte, N.C., at 3:40 p.m.

  • Newt Gingrich stops by Millersville University in Pennsylvania at 10 a.m. to teach a global politics class and participate in a town hall. He then travels to Delaware for speeches in Georgetown at 5 p.m. and Wilmington at 7:30 p.m.

  • Ron Paul holds a town hall in South Kingstown, R.I., at 7 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers and @kpolantz.