Five things learned at Latino conference
June 23rd, 2012
05:03 PM ET
2 years ago

Five things learned at Latino conference

Lake Buena Vista, Florida (CNN) - President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney were among the high-profile political figures to speak at the annual National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials this week.

Here are five things we learned from their visits:

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The Latino vote has arrived

The event highlighted the importance of the Latino vote in the 2012 election. Both Romney and Obama sought to energize these potential political foot soldiers to return home and motivate their constituents into the voting booth.

“Our members heard the message, they learned more about the candidates. Now they can go back to their communities and make sure they come out and vote,” said Sylvia Garcia, the outgoing president of NALEO.

Boosting the turnout rate is key for the Latino vote to become a more powerful political force in this and future elections.

Incumbency matters

Obama's new directive preventing the deportation of some young illegal immigrants could form a political shield against criticism that he did not keep his promise to enact immigration reform within his first year in office. With certain similarities to the Dream Act - to which Romney is opposed - the president has subjected his rival to increasing scrutiny from a crowd that wants to know more specifics of the Republican's plan.

“His [Romney’s] message on immigration was a little confusing because it was different from what he’s said in the past and those points were not well-received,” said Luz Urbaez Weinberg, a Republican city commissioner from Aventura, Florida.

The Latino vote is not monolithic

If it was clear that Obama received a much warmer reception, the group received Romney respectfully and proved that it is willing to hear different ideas on how to solve issues important for the Latino community.

Utah state Sen. Ross Romero, a Democrat, underscored the importance of advancing an agenda which favors this constituency.

“Those of us who are in the political arena understand that we can’t get anything done without cooperation from the other side," he said. "So if the Republican ideas are winning the day and are attracting the vote, then the Latinos will go to that candidate.”

Marco Rubio is Latino

Is he Latino enough?, some critics asked.

Critics say the possible Republican vice presidential candidate's Cuban background does not play well in other states, particularly in the west where Mexican-American heritage is more dominant. He has also been criticized for not supporting comprehensive immigration reform.

But the freshman senator from Florida got a warm reception from the audience. Recently, he has been seen as leading the GOP effort to find solutions to illegal immigration, including developing a Republican alternative to the Dream Act.

The crowd applauded, even at times when he criticized the president.

Eat fast when the president is coming

During the luncheon that preceded Obama's speech, the audience was told to eat fast. The Secret Service, they were told, required silverware be removed before he arrived, a standard procedure.

Conference officials say the menu was dictated by this rule, forcing them to serve salads because the use of knives was not allowed.


Filed under: Florida
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Name JR

    BYLINE: 5 Things we learned...

    The only thing we learned in this article was they had to cut their chicken with spoons. Come on CNN why don't you EVER fully vet issues. It always comes through with a bias you can't even see. That's how ingrained it is.

    June 23, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. roro

    Any Latino who votes Republican is voting again his or her own best interests – same for women, the middle class, LGBT, seniors, and the working poor.

    June 23, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. ufadoof

    The republican message on immigration is loud and clear. All illegal immigrants should immediately be forcibly removed from the U.S.
    Gee, I wonder why this doesn't play well with latinos?

    June 23, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  4. n

    This news piece is clearly trying to underplay the effect President Obama speech had on the Latino Conference. He wiped the floor with both Romney and Rubio. Yeah, that's right, President Obama took both of these, want-a-bee's to school. Obama message was strong, on point and heart felt. The other two, came with no core, no substance. Poor Romney is in a tangled web of lies with blind Rubio caught up in it like a helpless fly. Face it, Romney is out classed. Period. I am just saying , laughing!

    June 23, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  5. Andrea

    The latino vote is here and here to stay!!!!

    June 23, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. abe

    Romney has no values for Latinos , does not understand immigration and does not know how to be humane. His vice-presidential candidate choices such as Rubio will not bring Latino votes to him. Rubio , he himself comes from a family of immigrants now that he is a Senator is trying to be the darling of the Republican party. He needs to look back what his family went through to be citizens and he also has to clearly understand how the newer generation is going through to become what his parents has achieved. The immigration issue has been going on for years and he ought tell his own Republican party that is runs with one eye closed and one ear plugged and who do not want to come to terms with Democrats and craft a lasting immigration solution. Romney/Rubio what a combination and are forgetting Latinos are smart people and will vote as they see it fit, so Romney unleashing Rubio to get him Latino votes will not work.

    June 23, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. arale norimaki

    The same Marco Rubio? That Talks Big but Fails to Deliver?

    A Cuban on the ballot means nothing to the general population of the
    Hispanic community. Most Latin Americans don't like Cubans

    Cubans have enjoyed a status not accorded to any other immigrant group over time. In this work,Illegal Immigrants from Cuba: Preferential Treatment to get Green Card

    Of course no republican will say anything about this as most cubans tend to vote republican

    June 23, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  8. Orlando R.

    Latinos in the west will vote for Obama. Cubans usually vote Republicans anyway. Rubio on Romneys tickets wont make a difference. Obama is still gonna win the latino vote

    June 23, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  9. Voltaire

    Love watching Rubiocito learning from alexithymic Mitt how to dance that new dance craze, the EL ETCH-O-SKETCHO. Dance, Rubio! Dance as fast as Mitt tells you to, and don't stop until Nov 6!

    June 23, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  10. MATTER OF FACT

    Debby said in another post that "The middle class is already losing so why not a fresh face" (Romney). Well, Debby, that fresh face with shot you in the head, stab you in the back and run over you with his car on the way to his garage elevator. Does that answer your question? Romney has done absolutely nothing in his entire life that has helped the middle class. Vote for him at your own risk.

    June 23, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  11. Dick Hertz

    Learned Romney shouldn't pander to them and that there are more of them here illegally than here legally. The Census tells us that.

    June 24, 2012 12:33 am at 12:33 am |