If anyone thought that the Chimichanga heard ’round the world had scared Jim Messina away from talking about Hispanic voters, they thought wrong. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Messina told the magazine,”I’m absolutely obsessed with Latino voters.” Notes Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson:
The opportunity Messina sees with Latino voters is twofold. First, the population is booming: The number of Latinos voting in 2012 is expected to jump by 25 percent over 2008. Second, Mitt Romney has chosen to prove his right-wing credentials by outflanking the entire GOP field with extremist positions on issues dear to the Latino community, embracing Arizona’s racist immigration law as a “model” for the country and spouting the language of “self-deportation” used by hard-line anti-immigrant activists. “Romney’s position on immigration reform is to the right of every major Republican nominee of our lifetime,” Messina says. “That’s going to be a real problem for him to come back to the middle with those voters.”
Rolling Stone notes that the Obama re-elect faces challenges with Latino voters, including a failure to deliver comprehensive immigration reform in Obama’s first term and a contentious deportation policy. But from a tactical standpoint, Latinos are front of mind for Team Obama – especially, as seen above, compared to Team Romney. “All major communications go out in both Spanish and English,” the author notes, “and the national political director is Katherine Archuleta, the first Latina to hold that job in a major presidential campaign.”
For a campaign that has laid out five potential path to victories — a Florida path; a Western path that includes Hispanic-rich Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada; a Midwestern path, a Southern path; and an Expansion path that brings states like Arizona into play — Messina’s admission might give us a big window into which paths are looking most promising.