WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has "dug his own grave with Latino voters," Democratic strategist Paul Begala said Monday.
Begala was explaining his super PAC's launch of an ad campaign targeting Latino voters. Begala said the new ads will remind the crucial voting bloc of the "elitist" and "callous" statements Romney has made in the past.
The super PAC that Begala advises, Priorities USA Action, announced earlier Monday that it would roll out the joint $4 million ad campaign with the Service Employees International Union, a labor union with a sizable Latino membership. The ads feature Romney "in his own words" and highlight a number of oft-repeated slip-ups from the former Massachusetts governor, such as his statements that he's not concerned with the very poor and likes being able to fire people.
"I want to say thank you to the person who wrote these scripts, and that would be Mitt Romney," Begala said. "Romney has dug his own grave with Latino voters, and we want to make sure they know it."
The Romney campaign told The Huffington Post in a statement that the ads are merely an attempt to distract Latino voters from President Barack Obama's record on the economy.
"The same month Hispanic unemployment jumped to 11%, President Obama declared the private sector is 'doing fine,'" Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email. "President Obama and his allies will do anything to distract from the fact that Hispanics have been hit disproportionately hard in the Obama economy. Mitt Romney is focused on his plans to create jobs and get the economy back on track."
The ads, released by Priorities USA and SEIU, show Latino voters reacting in real-time to some of the gaffes made by Romney while on the stump, in a clear attempt to paint the presidential hopeful as out of touch with working-class Latinos. The ads will air in the swing states of Colorado, Nevada and Florida, all of which have considerable Latino populations.
Obama won the Latino vote overwhelmingly against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008, but the Romney camp hopes to change that for the upcoming elections by playing on the weak economy. The campaign has released its own ads highlighting the economic pain borne disproportionately by Latinos during the downturn and slow recovery.
During a call with reporters Monday, Eliseo Medina, the secretary-treasurer for the SEIU and a longtime immigration reform advocate, said that Romney's policies on immigration and the economy would be "devastating" for Latinos.
"He called one of Arizona's [draconian immigration] laws a model for the nation," Medina said, playing off a statement the Romney campaign has claimed was misconstrued. "[His] party has been hostile to policies that would help Latinos and their families...He wants to make immigrants' lives so miserable that they self deport."
One of the ads released Monday: