September 27th, 2013
06:43 PM ET
9 years ago

Hispanic outreach: Mitt Romney’s largest error from 2012

(CNN) – Mitt Romney has had some time to reflect on what went wrong last November. His main conclusion: the Hispanic community didn’t understand his immigration stance well enough.

"The largest strategic error was not investing sufficiently, particularly in Hispanic TV and Hispanic outreach to help Hispanic voters understand that ours is the party of opportunity," Romney told CNN’s Jake Tapper of the lesson to be learned for GOP presidential campaigns of the future.

Romney lost the Hispanic vote by 40%, a loss seen to be in large part spurred by the perception of the Republican Party as antithetical to immigration reform.

"I think my position and the position of our party is not well understood at the Hispanic community," said Romney. "I want to see immigration reform. I said that during the campaign. I want to make sure we have a legal immigration system that brings, in my view, more people legally to our country. I'd like to do that."

Exclusive: Romney disagrees with House GOP ‘tactics’ on Obamacare

Romney’s comments offer some of the most revealing insight into his thoughts on immigration and its role in his 2012 defeat to President Barack Obama.

Debates on how the GOP should adapt itself in the years to come have found a split between elements who think Republicans need to reach out better to Hispanic voters and those who view any immigration reform or pathway to citizenship as amnesty for lawbreakers.

The GOP has a long way to go if it wants to attract Hispanic voters, according to a new poll released Friday.

Half of Hispanics identify with the Democratic Party, according to the Public Religion Research Institute poll, compared to the 15% who identify with the GOP.

But the problem is more than just party identification, says the survey. Forty-three percent of Hispanics identified that the phrase "cares about people like you" more appropriately describes the Democratic Party, while 12% say the same for the GOP.

–CNN’s Dan Merica, Sherisse Pham and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: Immigration • Mitt Romney
soundoff (948 Responses)
  1. Scott

    I would say his largest strategic mistake was thinking he could buy the Presidency like he buys everything else in his life. He is a multi-millionarie, who was born a multi-miliionaire, who has always had a safety net for everything he has ever done in his life. This guy has no idea what the other 99.9% of this nation's day to day life is like. That is probably why he is so willing to change his stance on every issue... he has never had to actually stand for something and risk it all. There are quite a few Republicans who I have a great deal of respect for even though I don't agree with their ideology... I wouldn't trust this guy to scrub my kitchen floor... much less to run the country.

    September 28, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. Carlos

    Romney and the GOP still don't get it. He says the GOP cares about Hispanics, yet the House Republicans have not taken up the bi-partisan Immigration Bill from the Senate. He talks about an immigration system that brings in more people legally; how about comprehensive reform about all the ones that are here illegally now. Soon enough the children of those illegal immigrants (born in this country and therefore U.S. citizens), will get to be of voting age.

    September 28, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. Lyon2k

    What a looser, any politician that promotes Self deportation or has Jan Brewer, or pit wilson's immigration policies will never get any Hispanic support.

    September 28, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  4. Paul

    He really doesn't understand why he lost. Karl Rove's approach was the wrong one - attack Obama and no other substance. The Hispanic vote has nothing to do with it. The GOP got outplayed at the grass roots level - street level.

    September 28, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  5. Raymando

    When Mitt says "the Hispanic community didn’t understand his immigration stance well enough", he implies that it is the fault of the Hispanic community – that THEY didn't understand. His inability to fully take ownership of his errors is his real "largest error"

    September 28, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  6. samuel

    its called immigration folks if you call my baby an anchor baby how do u expect me to vote for you. i do not totally agree with dems because of the social issues and abortion but atleast they are not calling my baby an anchor baby.

    September 28, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  7. JD

    LOL He still doesn't get it! Your failure was your arogance and your magic underwear! Did you really think the USA wanted a Mormon for a president? That would have worked really well with Israel and the other Christian countries!

    September 28, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  8. Arrive-1

    A rancher who raises horses for racing and private sales once told me: "My business could not survive without illegal immigrants." So, who are the law breakers? Those who come to work, or those who become well-to-do or rich off of poverty-level wages and no benefits to workers? Conservatives/Republicans, who represent those "job creators" who abuse the system, don't have any idea how to speak to Hispanics, many of us whom are not immigrants (family here since 1500). Talk to us like you don't see us as "other" and understand our issues when we get treated as "other", That's what it will take to get us to their side.

    September 28, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. Raymond Oakley

    If Mr. Romney believes that, the loss of the Hispanic vote was the only factor that contributed, to his defeat ........ he still is waaaaaay out of touch!!!!!!!!!

    September 28, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Romney's main problem was his inconsistency–changing his positions to pander to the conservative Republican base–and his utter contempt for the majority of struggling Americans, the so called 47%. He came off like the spoiled and privileged rich brat that he is whose heart is with big business at the expense of the typical American and the environment. Of course, he and the extremist Republicans continue to be blinded by their bigoted, racist, messianic religious ideology which us not shared by the majority of our citizens.

    September 28, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  11. Huma

    When he tried to bet someone 10,000 dollars during a debate he showed this country enough to know that he was not the right man. He's just not cut out for the job.

    September 28, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. John

    Mitt Romney did not control the Republican Party's message to Hispanics. There was no single voice from the Republican Party to Hispanics. The messages that were heard were the negative messages from Republican politicians to sub-segments of their party to gain favor with that sub-segment. Such messages were effectively divisive and served only to further divide the already very fractured Republican party. Is it any surprise with the Republican Party compartmentalizing both their party and how they classify and treat fellow American citizens that they don't come across as an attractive Party to join? I did not think this was rocket science yet maybe it is for the Republican leadership.

    September 28, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. judith

    God God, is this ridiculous man still making excuses. He simply can't get over the fact that he was a horrible candidate, with ideas that were firmly rejected by the American electorate. Mitt, come to terms with it and get on with your life of uber-privilege. You lost, plain and simple.

    September 28, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  14. Merrill

    Well immigration policy might have been part of the problem for Romney but the biggest reason he lost is he didn't spend enough time on TV shows, i.e. The View, Letterman, Leno, etc.,going after the DUMB vote.
    That's who won it for Obama, the morons that didn't know were Washington is, who Obama's running mate was and what D.C. stands for.
    Sorry you lost Mitt, You and Ryan would have been leading and working.

    September 28, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  15. Al

    What a patriarchal, white-centric response. "Oh, they just didn't understand us." No, moron, the problem is they understand you GOP twerps. EVERYONE understands what you guys are about, and they're not buying it. Your biggest strategic error is being a republican. Period.

    September 28, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. Common Sense

    Actually as a latino, it wasn't immigration that was the problem it was more of your ideals. Obama was far more qualified and truly cares about the American people. Romney and the most of the Republican party come of as power and money hungry monsters.

    September 28, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  17. RedMaple

    The problem is not that the Hispanic community doesn't 'understand' the Republican stance on immigration well enough, but rather that it is understood loud and clear. Its the elitist policy itself that kept a lot of people from voting for Romney! Plus this seemingly 'cluelessness' about it!

    September 28, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. Dave

    No, Mr. lost the election with your overall comment of "the 47%" which included the Hispanics, but offended just about anybody who wasn't white, wealthy and a Republican.

    September 28, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  19. 1twinsfan

    Yes, Mitty, some of them are citizens and can vote. And to both the GOP and Dems, many of "them" don't care about immigration they way you think. Most Hispanics have roots going back several generations. After all, Columbus did come over on Spanish ships.

    September 28, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. Corey

    Sure Mr. Romney, and you also never said, "Let them self-deport." Just because you lied throughout the primary debates and the campaign does not mean people do not understand. Everyone understands a lie.

    September 28, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. Ray

    What a phony after proposing a policy that he hoped would as he said lead to self deportation..he now says hes for immigration.....the other lie is that he did not invest more on Hispanic tv .he did he was on the air often telling Hispanics he was Mexican because his father was born in Mexico. What he forgot to mention but Hispanics figured out anyway is that his father was born in Mexico but just over the border in a Mormon compound completely segregated from the Mexicans and the only reason he was there was to escape prosecution from the us gov for bigamy..they also knew as did the Portuguese and Brazilians in Massachusetts that he had been one of the most anti immigrant governors in that state...nothing wrong with acting on what you believe but at least be honest about Romney has serious character flaws that all this mr clean and religious facade can't hide..and I haven't even gotten into his business practices and shady tax dodges with offshore accounts.

    September 28, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. officerjoe

    Since politics is now a "Science" please show me one shred of scientific polling data in support of the assertion that Hispanics didn't vote for Romney because of immigration. In the NY Puerto Rican community who are US born citizens many are afraid that uncontrolled illegal immigration is taking away jobs.It's more likley he lost that vote due to the Republican positions on health care,Social Security,minimum wage etc...This idea that Hispanics are monolithic on illegal immigration is a lie that the RNC is trying to use to justify a change in policy.

    September 28, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  23. Mike

    Dear Mr. Romney,

    The problem wasn't that you were misunderstood by any particular segment of the population. The problem was that enough people across the board DO understand what you stand for, and summarily rejected it last November. You (and today's GOP in general) don't just have a "messaging" problem; the issues go deeper than that. Until the underlying issues are dealt with, all you're doing is putting lipstick on a pig.

    September 28, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  24. Severe Conservative

    I think this is just one symptom of a larger problem...that Romney felt he had to portray himself as a "severely conservative" Republican to win the base. if he had just been himself and used common sense he would have done better. The country is longing for a moderate but the 24 hour news cycle/cable/talk radio system only can produce extremists or posers.

    September 28, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. ToldUso

    I would venture his greatest strategic error was speaking.

    September 28, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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