LATINO VOICES
03/16/2012 06:07 pm ET

Mitt Romney Criticizes Sotomayor While Seeking Votes In Puerto Rico

On Friday, Mitt Romney asked the Puerto Rican people for their vote on Sunday's GOP primary in an open letter to the commonwealth. But on Thursday, the candidate attacked a figure many from region see as a hero -- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Justice Sotomayor is the first Hispanic judge on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the third female judge. Born in the Bronx, Sotomayor is of Puerto Rican descent.

While the former Massachusetts governor released a radio ad last month attacking Santorum for voting to confirm Sonia Sotomayor in 1998, Romney said for the first time yesterday that he himself would not have voted to confirm the judge.

He then went on to criticize the Supreme Court Justice for being a "liberal jurist."

"Judge Sotomayor and I have very different judicial philosophies," he said in the interview. "She is an activist, a liberal jurist. And I prefer people who follow the Constitution and do not make law as a judge. And so I will support Justices who are conservative and who follow the constitution."

LISTEN: Romney Criticizes Sotomayor On Noti Uno

But in an Op-Ed entitled "Romney, leave Sotomayor out of it" Mary Sanchez, a columnist for The Kansas City Star, suggested Romney should, "be careful who [he] throws under the campaign bus."

Sanchez concluded, "by maligning a public figure with real depth and complexity, Romney's operatives invited thinking people to ponder the essentially hollow character of the Republican front-runner."

Some Democrats are eager to take advantage of Romney’s decision to criticize Sotomayor by pointing out how the candidate fails to understand issues of importance in the Latino community. According to a recent Fox News Latino poll, Romney would only win 14% of the Latino vote if pitted against Obama.

Florida State Rep. Darren Soto (D-Orlando) told Voxxi that Romney's attacks on Sotomayor were, "the latest chapter in Romney's anti-Hispanic campaign."

Romney has faced criticism from Latino advocates for his support for Arizona and Alabama's brand of immigration enforcement, which he calls "self-deportation." He has also vowed to veto the Dream Act, a bill which if passed would provide some undocumented students and soldiers a path towards citizenship. The measure is supported by 91% of Latinos, according to a recent Pew study.

In a press statement released on Friday, the Romney campaign asserts that it "has strong support in Puerto Rico." The candidate boasts endorsements from Puerto Rico's Governor Luis Fortuño, Speaker of the House Jenniffer González-Colón, President of the Senate, Thomas Rivera Schatz, and Mayor of San Juan, Jorge Santini among others.

The Puerto Rican GOP primaries will take place on Sunday, March 18th.

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