Though the 2012 Republican National Convention drew to a close Thursday night, the battle for Latino voters is far from over. While Mitt Romney's attempts to woo Latino voters have left much to be desired, the Latino lineup of RNC speakers illustrates the GOP is certainly trying.
Despite scheduling changes after the convention was cut a day short by Hurricane Isaac, Latino politicians remained prominent, holding key evening speaking slots. At least 10 Latino speakers took the stage during the convention -- yes, we're including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Romney's Spanish-speaking son Craig -- but the total count is not much higher than the number of Latino pols that spoke at the 2008 RNC.
The difference lies not in the sheer number, but in the choice of speaker and time slot. In 2008, nine Latinos, including Sen. Mel Martinez and former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, spoke during the four-day convention, but none were offered primetime speaking slots. In 2004, seven Latinos spoke on behalf of the party, but the GOP stacked the deck by including two Hispanic musicians, Daniel Rodriguez and Jaci Velasquez, and Latino businesswoman Carmen Bermúdez, who led the pledge of allegiance.
Similarly in 2000, speeches by Latino politicians or community members were limited as half of the Latinos invited on stage either sang or led the pledge of allegiance.
While the GOP has a tradition of diversifying its stage presence during RNC, this year's primetime lineup of Luce Vela Fortuño, wife of Puetro Rican Gov. Luis Fortuño, on Tuesday, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Wednesday and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Thursday was unprecedented. Not only did the GOP hand out primetime speaking spots to prominent Latinos, but it did so every single day of the convention. If that's not a ploy to gather Latino voters, then we don't know what is.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- likely the most outspoken critic of the GOP's use of Latinos on stage -- called the move "window dressing" on Tuesday, telling reporters the party "can't just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname" and expect Latinos to vote Republican.
Mitt Romney may be trailing nearly 40 percentage points behind President Obama in Latino support, according to recent polls, but he could still make up the difference -- possibly by turning to the advisors that led President George W. Bush to win 35 percent of the Latino vote in 2000 and 40 percent in 2004.
Check out the gallery below to see all the Latino speakers at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
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