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.
Susana Martinez was the first U.S. Latina governor when she was elected governor of New Mexico in 2010. She is a Republican and the first woman to be the state's governor. Martinez, of Mexican descent, was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. She was district attorney for the Third Judicial District in Doña Ana County in Southern New Mexico, a position she held for 14 years. Controversy has followed Martinez. First, it erupted when she claimed that her <a href="http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2011/09/09/new-mexico-gov-susana-martinez-confirms-that-grandparents-were-undocumented/" target="_hplink">grandparents first came into the country illegally. </a> She later clarified her family's past stating that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/14/susana-martinez-new-mexico-governor-clarifies-immigrant-past_n_1093443.html" target="_hplink">her grandparents followed common practices in coming to the U.S. from Mexico in the early 1900s. </a> The second controversy came with <a href="http://hispanic.cc/new_mexico_republican_governor_martinez_attacks_law_allowing_undocumented_to_obtain_drivers_licenses.htm" target="_hplink">her proposal to revoke a New Mexico state law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.</a>
Marco Rubio was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 to represent Florida. He was born in Miami and is the son of Cuban immigrants. Rubio was accused of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/25/will-marco-rubio-lie-matter-as-much-as-politics_n_1031147.html" target="_hplink">embellishing crucial details about his parents' emigration from Cuba. </a> News has been circulating of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-schneider/psssst-marco-rubio-will-b_b_940308.html" target="_hplink">a possible Republican nomination for vice president</a> in the 2012 election. Rubio told the GOP to tone down its hard-edged stance on immigration. <a href="http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2011/11/15/rubio-tells-gop-to-ease-up-on-immigration/#ixzz1doct52kh" target="_hplink">According to Fox News Latino,</a> Rubio said, "The Republican Party should not be labeled as the anti-illegal immigration party. Republicans need to be the pro-legal immigration party."
Luis Fortuño is the governor of Puerto Rico and president of the New Progressive Party, the political party seeking U.S. statehood for the island. In 2012, Fortuño has been an active campaigner for Mitt Romney, even being listed as a potential Vice President candidate on the GOP ticket.
Texas Republican Ted Cruz is the first Hispanic to hold the post of Solicitor General for the state of Texas. He won a runoff election against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in July 2012, and is now the GOP candidate for the Senate seat vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Brian Sandoval was appointed U.S. district judge for Nevada by President George W. Bush in October 2005, becoming the state's first Hispanic federal judge. Sandoval is an American citizen of Mexican descent. He is currently Nevada governor. Earlier this year, Sandoval said <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/13/brian-sandoval-endorses-rick-perry_n_961090.html" target="_hplink">he was backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential bid</a>.
Zoraida Fonalledas serves as the <a href="http://www.goppr.org/content/zoraida-fonalledas-national-committeewoman" target="_hplink">national committeewoman of the Puerto Rico Republican Party</a>, a position she has held since 1995. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Fonalledas holds a J.D. from InterAmerican University School of Law of Puerto Rico and is a member of both the American and Puerto Rico Bar Associations. Skip ahead to the 6:00 mark in the video to hear Fonalledas speak.
Luce Vela Fortuño
Formerly Lucé Vela Gutierrez, Fortuño is the wife of Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno. As the first lady of Puerto Rico, she introduced Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
New Mexico businessman Phil Archuletta gave a controversial speech during the 2012 Republican National Convention's "We Built It" night. His remarks that the Obama administration did not give his business more money sparked commentary after it was brought to light that he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/29/phil-archuletta-rnc-we-built-it_n_1840489.html?utm_hp_ref=latino-voices&ir=Latino Voices" target="_hplink">saw over $340,000 in federal contracts under Obama in 2010</a>.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is included in this roundup not for his Hispanic blood, but for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/jeb-bush-hispanic-republicans-voters_n_1842663.html?utm_hp_ref=latino-voices" target="_hplink">his close ties to the Latino community</a>. "He is accepted as part of the Cuban community," said Jose Fuentes, of Fuentes & Rodriguez, a Miami government consulting firm, who has known Bush for about three decades. "He was like one of us kids. My father would tell me, 'Oye, you have to be like Jeb.'"
Craig Romney, the son of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has been making the rounds during the convention, touting his grandfather's Mexican roots. On Thursday, he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/craig-romney-speech_n_1844934.html?utm_hp_ref=latino-voices&ir=Latino Voices" target="_hplink">addressed delegates in Spanish</a> and teared up while he was talking about his heritage. Outside the political world, he <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/jpmoore/the-romney-sons-a-guide" target="_hplink">lives in San Diego/a> with his wife and two kids and works in real estate.
Honorable Mention: Samuel Rodriguez
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez delivered a benediction during the 2012 RNC. Rodriguez, <a href="http://www.nhclc.org/en/leader/rev-samuel-rodriguez" target="_hplink">a Hispanic evangelical</a>, currently serves as the <a href="http://www.nhclc.org/en/our-leadership" target="_hplink">president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference</a>.
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