By Eliseo Medina, SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer, and Bill Burton, Senior Strategist, Priorities USA Action
Actions don't lie and neither does video. Those who doubt that should closely watch the facial expressions of those who feel insulted. Watch the faces of voters when they see and hear a politician only interested in helping the wealthy. Watch the faces of Latinos when they hear Mitt Romney speak in his own words and hear about how Romney actually made his millions. Then you will agree that pictures don't lie.
That's what we found when SEIU and Priorities USA Action set out to test voters' reactions to Mitt Romney as he talked about working people, immigrants, and the 99 percent less fortunate than him. They watched this GOP presidential candidate, a multi-millionaire who jokes about being unemployed. Romney, as has been well documented, made a fortune often driving companies to bankruptcy and laying off workers without the health and retirement benefits that they had earned to increase the profit margins for himself and his wealthy investors.
"He's making fun of us; of the people who don't have work. What he is saying is not fair," said one Hispanic voter in Denver. "I cannot vote for Romney."
A Nevada voter appeared equally insulted. "Our kids our suffering and he makes a joke.... I cannot imagine voting for him," she said.
"He doesn't think of us," added a Florida Hispanic voter.
Their voices and many others are being seen and heard in Colorado, Nevada and Florida as part of our campaign to show who Mitt Romney really is and how he condescendingly talks about working people and the poor -- and how this attitude will translate into policies that will be harmful to our communties if he is elected.
The new Spanish-language radio and television ads called "In His Own Words," reminds Hispanic voters that Romney simply doesn't get it and the stakes are too high to ignore.
It is not just a disconnect with real people. Romney's GOP primary campaign rhetoric on immigration, jobs and other key issues shows a real disrespect for Hispanics struggling to earn fair wages to support their families.
Lately, Romney has run paid media ads claiming he shares Latino's values, while trying to avoid talking about immigration, a "gut check" issue that helps Latino voters distinguish between the good guys and the bad. But Hispanics won't forget his record.
Romney embraces the most extreme policies in the history of the Republican Party, such as vowing to veto the DREAM Act, which allows young, talented Hispanics to earn citizenship if they pursue a college education or serve in the military. On immigration, he follows the advice of Kris Kobach, the architect of racial profiling laws like Arizona SB 1070 and Alabama HB 56, and believes that if life is made miserable for immigrants to survive and earn a living, they will "self-deport."
His lack of regard is exactly the opposite of President Obama's advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform, the DREAM Act, affordable health care, education, production of good jobs, and so many other issues that are important to Hispanics.
What Romney fails to comprehend is that people really understand what's going on and what a candidate is saying, regardless of the language spoken. When they look and hear his own words, they know what he means, and what he means is not going to be good for them or for their families. They realize that in Mitt Romney's world, only the rich get richer and the rest get left behind.
The truth is that Mitt Romney and the GOP are in denial over the rapid demographic changes occurring in this country. Their nativist policies are divisive and destructive.
The Latino community will not stand for insulting, hostile and unwelcoming attacks on working families. In the face of these attacks, Hispanics are realizing that they are not helpless and that they do have the power, through their vote, to reject politicians like Romney and vote for a man who watches their backs, President Obama.
That is why in November, Hispanic voters will reject Romney's words and actions and vote for the president's re-election.