May 30th, 2012
04:31 PM ET
10 years ago

Gonzales says Romney must make personal connection to Hispanics

(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.

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"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."

Also see:

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

Filed under: 2012 • Alberto Gonzales • Latinos • Mitt Romney • TV-John King U.S.A.
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Ambrose Smith

    All he has to do it tell people the truth that he, like his dad, was born in Mexico. Until I see his long form birth certificate IN MY HAND, I will believe he is from Mexico. Where's the BC Mitt?

    May 30, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. Thomas


    Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales .
    Just brings back the Bush Memories .

    Romney / GW Bush

    May 30, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. BLKMANinAmerica mean much like you? Romney has NO, not 1 "personality" so good luck finding the personal connection.................asjk his wife if they have a "personal connection"............She said heck NO!

    May 30, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. arale norimaki

    We urge these politicians to STOP dividing us into groups for their own gains, and treat us as AMERICANS

    May 30, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. Marie MD

    The problem is that the word hispanics or latinos tends to shove everyone who speaks Spanish into one pot and that is not right at all. It's like putting Americans, British, Australians, Canadians together in one group and calling them English.
    The problem with the Kola bishop is that his grandaddy moved to Mexico to be able to marry eight women and spawn 28 children. I don't think the flip flopper wants to remind anyone that his grandaddy was a polygamist or that his daddy was born in Mexico and could NEVER be president (hence his place in history, barf) and, for pete's sake, to remind anyone of that heritage of his because he only uses them to cut his grass.

    May 30, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. 1twinsfan

    The majority of Hispanics that can vote probably have familial roots going back for generations. Their views on immigration are in line with most other Americans. But sadly, the GOP says all the Mexicans need to self-deport. You know, all the Hondurans, El Salvadorans, Columbians, Puerto Ricans - all those Mexicans.

    May 30, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. once upon a horse

    and I think Mitt needs to make a connection with African Americans as well while we're at it. And making a video with a bunch of Black kids singing "Who let the dogs out?" just is NOT going to cut it. And the self deportation thingy didn't go over very well with many of my Hispanic friends, ALL of which are legal citizens by the way.

    May 30, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. Woman In California

    Willard's connection to Latinos is simple: I can't have you working for me while I'm trying to run for POTUS. I'll add this also – come back and clean up for me once I LOSE in November. I'll have plenty of jobs for you then.

    May 30, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. DENNA

    Mitt will have a heck of a time with this. First, he belongs to a party that does not care for hispanics. If he plays up the the Hispanic vote, he will lose the Tea Party, Koch lover vote. That old rock and a hard place thing going on.

    May 30, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. Tired of republican lies

    @1twinsfan...You got it wrong...Puerto Ricans don't have to go through what the other Latinos go through for see, since we are from a commonwealth..we are part of the U.S. and there are a lot of us here...the gonop needs to stop denigrading us, and treat all us citizens with respect instead of buzz words to rile up the base...we are watching, and we vote too!

    May 30, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. ART

    Yes please indeed let all listen to the most incompetent Attorney Gen ever in U.S history.

    May 30, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  12. Alongtheway

    "Must". Really. Don't think so.

    May 30, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. Larry L

    Republicans love Latinos... to clean the pool, change the sheets, wash the car...

    May 30, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. Marty, FL

    Adelante with President Obama.
    Si se puede!

    May 30, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. Gurgyl

    I think Mitt needs to go to Mexico, at least cross the boarder so that he gains foreign affairs experience, he should take portman too, both get experience. Portman going to Israel for foreign affairs experience is so idiotic when Mexico next door gives that certificate.

    May 30, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    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.

    May 30, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    [ Gonzales] said Wednesday that Romney's past statements on immigration and border security will matter less than what he's saying when ballots are cast.
    Gonzales,evidently, has been thoroughly "Americanized" as us Latinos like to say, why else would he say something like this especially being Hispanic?
    You invite a Latino to a party as an after thought, or at the last minute, and guess who's NOT showing up.
    It's called pride Gonzales. You can't insult us for years and try to make up for it when you realize that you need our vote.
    Gonzales esta hablando porquerias.

    May 30, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. gop usa

    Deport the mexican illegals and their families,they do not belong here and have no rights to anything on this soil.They steal from us every day,lower wages take jobs,bankrupt schools and communities.Romney needs only to say we are going to deport you to the latinos.We dont need to pander to mexican illegals to win,we only need to deport them and their families,anchor babies included!!

    May 30, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  19. Alger Dave

    Romney's still got a long way to go on many of the issues that are dear to social conservatives. His flip flopping on these issues over time remind us of other previous presidents who didn't live up to their 'conservative' billing when picking supreme court justices, defending social causes, etc. It still looks a lot like Romney is the etch-a-sketch candidate, molding his message for whatever audience he needs. See the article today on CNN regarding his 'abandonment' of MA during his governorship there. Not good to hear, and from another Republican too. What kind of president will this guy be? No one can tell by his record, as it's changed so much over time.

    May 30, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ambrose Smith please stop accusing Romney of being a Mexican. You're starting to sound ike one of those crazy Birthers.
    You know good and darn well that he's a unicorn.
    The horn is retractable.

    May 30, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. Four and The Door

    Larry L
    Republicans love Latinos... to clean the pool, change the sheets, wash the car...
    ______________________________________________________________________________________ serve as Attorney General, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Housing & Urban Development. These are all Latino cabinet appointments under President George W. Bush.

    May 30, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. Bootstomper

    I completely forgot about this Hack.

    May 30, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. 1twinsfan

    Tired of republican lies - I think you missed my sarcastic point.

    May 30, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    I'm just waiting for birthers to point at the story of Noah's Ark and say "see...there's the proof that Mittens can't be a unicorn...they all died when God flooded the Erf and they didn't make it onto the Ark with the rest of the aminals!!!"

    May 30, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. Tony

    It is hard for Latinos to make personal connection with someone who wants them to self-deport. The only way that Romney can make personal connection to Latinos is for Romney to self-withdraw as the GOP nominee.

    May 30, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
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