June 06, 2012 at 11:57 am
Mitt Romney today announced the leadership team for his Hispanic Steering Committee, a list that includes a host of prominent Floridians, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio.
The Romney campaign said the new committee, which they are calling “Juntos Con Romney,” will help guide the campaign “on important Hispanic initiatives and outreach.”
The other Sunshine State leaders on the 21-member committee are former Sen. Mel Martinez, former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and State Rep. Anitere Flores.
Rubio, the popular Miami-born son of Cuban immigrants and a possible VP pick, is one of the committee’s honorary co-chairs. In the Romney campaign’s release announcing the committee, Rubio said “we are not better off than we were three and a half years ago.”
“We need to take a new course. Mitt Romney will bring his economic experience from the private sector and record of creating jobs and lowering spending as governor to Washington and will be able to restore America’s promise,” Rubio said.
As the presidential election approaches, Romney is working to improve his image problem with Latino voters– a crucial demographic, especially in Florida. Democrats currently have a 9-percent voter registration advantage with Hispanics in Florida.
If Romney wants to overcome his problem with Hispanic voters, he’ll need to make inroads with the growing number of non-Cuban Hispanics in Florida. As the Orlando Sentinel points out, with the exception of Bush, all the Floridians on Romney’s new committee are Cuban-Americans. The challenge for Romney comes in Central Florida, where a burgeoning Puerto Rican population is registering heavily Democratic.
State Rep. Darren Soto (D-Orlando) said the candidate’s Hispanic committee is the latest sign that Romney’s effort to win over the state’s diverse Latino population will be unsuccessful.
“It’s clear Mitt Romney is struggling to gain traction among the broader Hispanic community because his agenda is pulled straight from the failed GOP playbook that continues to ignore the needs of our people,” Soto said. “It’s President Obama’s policies which are helping middle class families and are resonating with the Hispanic community in Florida.”