(CNN) – Mitt Romney – who, according to polls, faces a sizeable deficit among Latinos – needs to find better ways to make connections with those key voters, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Wednesday.
Speaking on CNN's "John King, USA," Gonzales, a Republican, said Romney's past statements about policies affecting Latinos, including his policy of "self-deportation," will be hard for him to reverse.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
"That will be a challenge for Gov. Romney," Gonzales said.
The full interview will air Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET on CNN.
"He has to make some kind of personal connection with the Hispanic community. Gov. Bush believed in the rule of law, tougher workplace enforcement, in border security, but he was able to make a personal connection," he continued. "It may have been because of his experience as a border governor. We'll have to wait and see if Gov. Romney can make the same kind of personal connection."
Latino voters are considered key to winning the 2012 presidential election since they make up an increasing large chunk of the American electorate. They also represent a significant part of the population in several important swing states, including Florida, Nevada and Colorado.
In 2008, Latino voters went for President Barack Obama over Sen. John McCain 67%-31%. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll released at the end of last week indicated Obama still has the support of a majority of Latino voters, with 61% of registered Latino voters saying they support Obama and 27% backing Romney.
Romney has spoken out on immigration issues at various points in the Republican primary process, often finding himself at odds with more moderate voices within his own party. In December, Romney said he would veto the DREAM act, a measure that would offer a path to citizenship for minors in the country illegally, providing they served in the armed forces or attended college.
At a debate in January, Romney said he was in favor of "self-deportation," a policy that involves making economic conditions so difficult for undocumented workers that they choose to leave the country to find better opportunities.
Gonzales said Wednesday that policy wouldn't help the presumptive GOP nominee with Hispanic voters.
"That's not going to be something that resonates with the Latino community," Gonzales said. "The Latino community is going to respond to the notion that we are a country of laws, the rule of law. So border security is important. But also the message has to reflect the realization that this is a country of immigrants, and that people come to this country for a better life."
Gonzales, who served as Bush's attorney general from 2005-2007, said Wednesday that Romney's past statements on immigration and border security will matter less than what he's saying when ballots are cast.
"As we get closer to the election, people will listen to what Gov. Romney is saying," Gonzales said. "And I'm heartened by the fact that he now understands that it now does makes sense, and I think it would be important for the Hispanic community, if he supports some kind of legislation that puts these children, innocent children, in some kind of legal status."
In April, Gonzales told CNN he didn't think Florida Sen. Marco Rubio would be a smart choice for Romney's VP. He reiterated that point Wednesday.
"He's extremely talented, and I honor his service," Gonzales said. "But I think the job of president, and I've seen it firsthand, how hard it can be. And how important it is to have someone of wisdom. Wisdom comes from experience, it comes from living, it comes from success, it comes from failure. And I just think the country needs to have people in positions of leadership who have that experience."
Gingrich: Obama an 'American-born job-killing president'
Romney hits 'magic number' for GOP nomination
Incumbent outraised Democratic challenger in Wisconsin gubernatorial contest
Romney makes stop at raucous Vegas rally
How can Romney make a personal connection with anyone. He's so very superficial and a puppet-like robot that the neocons are enjoying molding into a character of their liking....a very dangerous situation. The same thing happened with the "W" presidency & look at the resultant disaster....a major mess that will take many more years to get out of.
Good luck with that Mr. Romney. You don't seem to be able to connect to anyone or anything at a personal level, although we know you "like to fire people". I am guessing the wait staff, gardeners and so on. You just say whay they think they want to hear and move on.
We dont need to pander to mexican illegals to win,we only need to deport them and their families,anchor babies included!!
Well, you better start saying goodbye to your GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
@ gop usa.....
did you ever take American history? Well Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California were ALL part of Mexico at one time so there is a chance that some of the ancestories of the people you are talking about were here long before yours were. Besides I bet you would just LOVE to be out there doing low paying migrant work picking fruits and veggies. Your rant sound like one that Native Americans should have made when your ancestors set foot on this country and took it from them. Don't worry though many of the folks you are talking about are leaving anyway, no jobs here and Mexico hiring. Plus Obama has deported more illegals than the GOP has ever done so far, but of course people like you won't give him credit for that.
he needs to make a personal connection with the general population first.He hasn't done that yet we're not all rich nascar owners mulitple homes and money stored in the camen islands.then he can think about making a connection with hispanics oh he won't win texas in the general election
Mittens is caught between a rock and a hard place. If he panders to Hispanics, he will alienate the good ole boys. And, pandering to the tea bags will drive away Latinos. What's a flip- flopper to do?
@Four and The Door
Republicans love Latinos... to clean the pool, change the sheets, wash the car...
...to serve as Attorney General, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Housing & Urban Development. These are all Latino cabinet appointments under President George W. Bush.
You are absolutely correct – all moves ridiculed by the conservative base along with the amnesty program President Bush supported that allowed 3.5 million Latinos to gain citizenship. It's one the few thing President Bush did that showed he had a brain – and the right-wing hasn't forgiven him for it!
Romney cannot make a personal connection with anybody, Latino or not. The key word is cannot. He is there because of money and right wing lunacy. The rise of Latino votes will doom the Republican Party and not a minute too soon. We need instirutions that look to the future, not the Middle Ages.
Mittens doesn't connect with anyone because he's a coldhearted automaton who likes to fire people and thinks that if only he and the other 1% folks just had ALL the money, everything would be OK.
@ Four and the Door....
and when President Obama appointed the first Hispanic to the SCOTUS the right wing Republicans had a hissy fit. Some even called her a racist.
"Hey, Mittens was governor of a border state, too. MA borders on the Atlantic and Rmoney know how to deal with all those illegal immigrants from Atlantis." –> Best Comment Award!!!
Romney and his wife had a net worth of between $190 and $250 million, most of it held in blind trusts since 2003. It has been estimated that Romney has amassed twice the net worth of the last eight presidents combined, and would rank among the four richest in American history if elected. Talk about the 1%!
Any candidate must show a relation to all of America.
A simple majority will only be a continued disaster for the American people.
Better get in your lil spaceships and throttle up, dont look back, sad. What made u think u could battle omniscience and omnipotence, to forsake the beauty of THE GLORY OF THE ETERNAL GOD, wasnt it enough? What more could u possibly ask for, so sad so so sad
Good luck. Hope he's got access to air bags when he hits the wall. If not, it's gonna hurt.