Republicans are calling for an apology from President Barack Obama's campaign manager over a tweet they argue is offensive to the Latino community.
On Wednesday, Jim Messina sought to call attention to an article by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, in which Milbank argued that Republicans will alienate Latino voters by embracing harsh immigration laws, opposing the DREAM Act, and giving the cold shoulder to a Latino judge Obama had nominated.
"Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: 'The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos,'" Messina tweeted.
Republicans are jumping on the tweet in order to garner much needed support from the Latino community in preparation for the 2012 elections. As The Hill reports, Jennifer Sevilla Korn, executive director of the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network issued a statement in response to Messina's tweet:
The fact that the campaign manager of President Obama's reelection campaign thinks it's appropriate to disseminate insulting jokes about the Hispanic community is a perfect example of the kind of empty rhetoric that characterizes this White House's so-called outreach to Latinos. We demand that Mr. Messina immediately apologize and we ask that President Obama disavow his campaign manager's ridiculous statement
Messina has drawn attacks from other Republican leaders as well, who did not appreciate his quoting of Milbank's column. The Republican National Committee's political director, Rick Wiley, also took the opportunity to berate Messina, calling the tweet "ridiculous."
Messina responded to the attacks Wednesday afternoon. "Tweeting someone else’s words caused a stir, but the GOP is on the wrong side of every Hispanic voter priority," he tweeted. His tweet included a link to an Obama strategy memo titled, "Republicans Seal Their Fate with Hispanic Voters in 2012."
The chimichanga remark made by Milbank and quoted by Messina actually had its origins in a speech by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), however. During a Senate hearing Tuesday, Republicans attempted to block the confirmation of Adalberto Jose Jordan, who would be the first Cuban-American judge to serve on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) who delayed the confirmation, Republican senators who had the opportunity to override Paul's filibuster chose not to. Instead, McCain, took to the Senate floor to highlight important details about the state of Arizona.
“The lettuce in your salad this month almost certainly came from Arizona,” McCain said, according to Milbank. “It’s also believed that the chimichanga has its origin in Arizona.”
The GOP has had a strained relationship with the Latino community over the years and is seeking to show Latino voters that it does care about them, despite opposition by Republicans on key issues such as the DREAM Act. The bill would allow immigrants to become permanent citizens after spending time in the military or at a four-year college.
The Latino vote is imperative in this year's election cycle, as the Latino community is the fastest growing in the nation. According to a poll by Univision News, 42 percent of Latinos believe the GOP is not concerned about reaching out to them. The poll shows that Obama has a strong chance of maintaining the huge amount of Latino support he developed during the 2008 campaign.
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