Mitt Romney’s campaign said Friday that the nation’s Hispanics are worse off today than they were before President Obama took office — as the former Massachusetts governor tries to improve his image with what it shaping up as a key electoral voting bloc.
Pointing to data from the U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Romney camp claims that Hispanics now make up almost 20 percent of nation’s unemployed — after almost 300,000 dropped out of the workforce.
Hispanics also account for nearly 30 percent of those living in poverty and have seen their median incomes drop.
“The Obama administration has brought hard times to Hispanics in America. Under President Obama, more Hispanics have struggled to find work than at any other time on record,” the Romney campaign said.
The Obama camp responded by saying that Mr. Romney “is not telling the truth” about Mr. Obama’s record.
“President Obama is fighting for an economy built to last, to create jobs and grow the middle class, and reward hard work and responsibility, and we are seeing results,” said Gabriela Domenzain, Obama campaign spokesperson. “Under the president’s leadership, we’ve seen 25 straight months of private-sector job growth, two million Hispanics have been kept out of poverty, taxes on small businesses have been cut 18 times and, over the past 25 months Hispanic unemployment has declined 2.1 percent.”
Mr. Romney, she said, is on the wrong side of every Hispanic voter priority and supports the same failed economic policies that created the economic crisis.
Mr. Romney all-but-locked the nomination earlier this month after former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania dropped his presidential bid.
That same day the ex-governor also took aim at the job losses under Mr. Obama, telling a crowd gathered for a town hall meeting in Delaware that women “have suffered” under Mr. Obama.
“The real war on women has been waged by the policies of the Obama administration,” he said. “Did you know that of all the jobs lost during the Obama years, 92.3 percent of them are women?”
Mr. Romney’s efforts are clearly aimed at wooing two voting groups — women and Hispanics — at a time when polls find him struggling to rally both groups to his side.
The surveys have found a gender gap, with female voters favoring Mr. Obama by a wide margin, and men, to a lesser extent, favoring Mr. Romney.
Mr. Obama also holds a strong lead among Hispanics over Mr. Romney, who staked out some of the most conservative positions on immigration of any of the candidates when he was fighting for the GOP nomination.
The former Massachusetts governor vowed to oppose the so-called “Dream Act” that would give citizenship to many children of illegal immigrants, called Arizona’s strict immigration law a “model” for other states and welcomed endorsements from noted hard-liners against illegal immigration.
Mr. Romney has since indicated that he would support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have served in the military.
Mr. Obama won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008, easily outperforming Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who pulled in 31 percent percent of the vote.
President George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 2004 re-election bid against Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry of Democrat.