Editor’s note: I am grateful to one of my younger brothers, James Williamson, for contributing another guest op/ed to Buckeye RINO. In the interest of disclosure, James is a native Ohioan who currently resides with his wife and four children in another swing state: Nevada. Nevada, of course, has a much larger Hispanic population than Ohio does. James has attended several GOP functions while residing in Nevada, including attending the presidential caucuses earlier in the year and serving as a delegate to Nevada’s Clark County Republican Party Convention. James has a couple of things in common with Mitt Romney. First of all, James is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, or Mormon) like Romney. That being said, Romney was not James’ first pick for the nomination. When Rick Perry first announced his candidacy (before it imploded), James was on board for Perry. By the time the Nevada caucuses were held, the field had been winnowed down to Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul. James caucused for Paul and went to the county convention as a Paul delegate. Now that it is clear that Romney is the party nominee, James supports Romney against Obama. The second thing James has in common with Romney is that he served a Mormon mission in a foreign country. Romney was a missionary in France. My brother, James, was a missionary in Ecuador. James is fluent in Spanish (as is the rest of his family), and circulates among those in Las Vegas’ Spanish-speaking community. Therefore, though he’s a gringo, I tend to lend some credence to James’ viewpoint on this topic. –DJW
MITT ROMNEY, HISPANICS, AND THE VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE
There is much talk about the Hispanic or Latino votes this election and whom they will vote for. Many experts believe that it is a crucial swing group that may decide the presidential election. I believe that may be true. Having now become the largest minority group, they certainly have sufficient numbers to have a significant political voice. Perhaps more importantly they are not loyal to either party and will vote for whomever they believe has more to offer them.
The desire to capture the Hispanic voting community has many suggesting that Mitt Romney should pick a Hispanic running mate to improve his chances with that group. While I think that the Hispanic vote is still in play I don’t think that simply picking a Hispanic running mate will be enough to tip the scales in Romney’s favor.
I’d like to weigh in on both issues: 1) the Hispanic vote and 2) the VP selection.
The Hispanic Vote
While some may believe that Obama has the Hispanic vote locked up I have some first-hand evidence that he does not. I was recently riding in a vehicle with two Hispanic women that were discussing the election. While the women both reside in Henderson, Nevada (hardly a bastion of liberalism…) I’m sure that their views are not unique among the voting (and, yes, both are voting citizens) Hispanic community. Both women had voted for Obama and expressed disappointment in his performance. Both indicated that they would probably not vote for him again. Unfortunately both women had some reservations about voting for Romney. They said that Romney did not inspire them. Moral to the story: the Hispanic vote is still in play but Romney better get moving if he wants it.
So how do you get the Hispanic vote if you are Mitt Romney? If I were running this is what I would do:
1. Remind the Hispanic community that Obama has only put a temporary measure in place regarding immigration and is only a partial solution. A permanent solution requires the cooperation of Congress. Obama is not going to get that cooperation if he is re-elected. Hispanics that are paying attention know this. Even if Obama is re-elected, the work permits that the White House plans to issue to immigrants who came as minors will only be good for 10 years. They will not have full residency status and will have no path to citizenship unless Congress acts. After 10 years (or less, if someone else is elected, or someone takes the case to the Supreme Court), the “dreamers” will wake up to reality that they do not have permanent legal status. This is not a solution this is political pandering. The pandering is only necessary because of argument #2.
2. Point out that Obama spent his time, energy, and political will urging congress to pass the Affordable Care Act instead of immigration reform. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time and political capital on a bill that is not only unpopular, but also unconstitutional (Chief Justice Roberts overlooked the fact that by defining the penalty as a tax, the bill became an appropriations bill . . . that originated in the . . . Senate! If I’m right, and Obamacare, by way of Roberts’ ruling, is an appropriation, then it needed to be originated by the House! However, I’m completely open to the possibility that Roberts was wrong on ruling that it was a tax, hence the bill is unconstitutional, by a 5-4 decision, in that the Commerce Clause does not uphold it!), the president should have lobbied for comprehensive immigration reform. Yes, it is a difficult issue, and can be divisive, but it is an enumerated power in the Constitution and clearly a responsibility of the federal government, a responsibility that the democratic Congress and White House abdicated during the 2009-2010 session. That, of course, needs to be followed with assurances that immigration will be addressed during the first year in office. Bush promised immigration reform, received the Hispanic vote, and then failed to deliver after three attempts. Obama promised immigration reform, received the Hispanic vote, and then didn’t even try to deliver until it was too late. Romney has to convince the Hispanic community that he can do better.
3. Hispanic issues are everyone’s issues. When I was attending a town hall meeting here in Nevada I managed to get on the Spanish news that night even though I am not Hispanic and Spanish is my second language. The reason is because the town hall was about e-verify and several of the attendees complained about being stopped by police that asked them for their social security numbers. I stood up and said that this was not just an issue for Hispanics. I was stopped by a BLM officer who demanded my social security number and even threatened to broadcast it over his radio if I didn’t provide it willingly. (This is why I really don’t like the BLM.) These issues affect everyone. If the police can demand proof of residency or a social security card from a Hispanic they can also demand it from an Asian, African, or Caucasian. I personally don’t want to carry my passport everywhere I go.
There are many other messages that will get the attention of the Hispanics but I believe these three are the key to opening up the dialogue.
The Vice Presidential Selection
While I don’t think that the VP pick will greatly influence the Hispanic vote I do think it will impact the election if it garners media attention. Contrary to popular opinion, I think Sarah Palin helped the McCain campaign. It wasn’t enough, but it brought media attention to a campaign that desperately needed it. This time the Republican still desperately needs media attention but one other factor is very different: A Democrat is the incumbent. In today’s world of anti-incumbent fervor, the challenger has a much better chance of winning than 8 years ago.
The biggest challenge that Romney faces is that people are not excited about him being president. Many of them will vote for Romney just to vote against Obama. Romney needs people to vote for him and I think the right VP candidate will help that if it is coupled with a higher-energy campaign. Romney is sending the right messages, but his delivery is not energizing the voters who are wary after being burnt by Obama.
Voters like Romney’s business aptitude. We need it right now. They also like the idea of American exceptionalism and, with that, generally like Romney’s foreign policy. What they don’t like is Romney’s perceived vanilla flavoring. He is viewed by many as just another politician who won’t be able to control the beauracracy or slow the entitlement tsunami.
How can the VP help that perception? Pick a high-energy, relatively unknown conservative that does not live or work in Washington DC, preferably a resident of a swing state. Someone like Palin with one difference: Don’t pick a first term governor.
I don’t know exactly who that person is. I wouldn’t pick any of the other Republican candidates for president. (Although I might pick Ron Paul as Secretary of the Treasury.) Mitch Daniels has taken another job. Marco Rubio is already working in Washington. Susana Martinez and Scott Walker are still in their first term. Donald Trump would be viewed as a corporate crony. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not eligible for the office.
Who does that leave? Ken Blackwell? Wayne Allen Root? Joe the Plumber?
Who would you pick?