09/17/2012 04:52 pm ET Updated Aug 19, 2013

Mitt Romney's LA Speech To Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Prompts Unfriendly Welcome

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke to Latino business leaders Monday in downtown Los Angeles, he faced a combination of two demographics that, in general, do not support him: Latinos and Angelenos.

And local Latino elected officials did not give him the warmest welcome.

A couple hours before Romney's speech before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Latino elected officials from Los Angeles and around California held a counter press conference in downtown LA to show their support for President Barack Obama.

"You know, this isn’t Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s only attempt to turn back the clock and change the way Americans and Latinos perceive their bad policies, and this wont be the last time," state Sen. Alex Padilla said.

"Latinos stand to lose the most from Romney’s insistence on the same failed economic policies that brought our economy to the brink of collapse, his $5 trillion in tax breaks weighted to the wealthiest Americans, and his belief that we should let foreclosures 'hit the bottom,'" he continued.

Connie Perez, treasurer of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, similarly accused Romney of leaving lower-income Americans to fend for themselves. "As governor he slashed per-pupil funding for K-12 education by more than any governor in the nation and when asked about the cost of college, all he recommended was to 'shop around,'" she said.

In anticipation of Romney's speech, the Obama campaign also released a video mocking the Republican candidate's Latino outreach as an "extreme makeover."

"Can he cover up his belief in self deportation with a bold new wallpaper choice?," the video asks. "And on his promise to veto the DREAM Act, well, duct tape can fix everything, can't it?"

Sen. Padilla made a similar argument Monday, saying that Romney is trying to backtrack his record with Latinos. "Mitt Romney wants the Latino community to forget, but we won’t," he said.

Also in anticipation of Romney's speech, Rep. Linda Sanchez, who represents part of South LA, wrote a HuffPost blog post saying that "Romney's immigration stance is the most extreme in modern history" but that, in his speech today, he probably won't talk about his self-deportation immigration policy or his vow to veto the DREAM Act.

After the unfriendly welcome, Romney countered in his speech that Obama has failed to deliver both jobs and immigration reform to Latinos.

He claimed that Latinos, like the rest of America, are not "better off than you were four years ago."

“While national unemployment is 8.1 percent, Hispanic unemployment is over 10 percent. Over two million more Hispanics are living in poverty today than the day President Obama took office," he said.

Hitting on immigration reform, Romney said, "Candidate Obama said that one of his highest priorities would be to fix immigration in his first year in office. Despite his party having majorities in both houses of Congress, the president never even offered up a bill."

Aside from advocating strong borders, Romney did not specify what his immigration policy would be.

With California's electoral votes almost certainly going to Obama, Romney's move to speak in Los Angeles is likely a gesture to a Latinos nationally, as both candidates continue to target Latino voters in key swing states, including Colorado, Nevada, Florida and Virginia.

Romney is also in California for the usual political reason -- a fundraiser later in the day in wealthy Orange County, the Orange County Register reports. The fundraiser, which is being held in Costa Mesa, Calif., is expected to draw more than 1,000 supporters, which would make it larger than Romney's two previous lucrative Orange County fundraisers.

The speakers at the counter press conference were State Sen. Alex Padilla; Asm. Gil Cedillo; Speaker & Asm. John Perez; Councilman Ed Reyes; Councilman Joe Buscaino; Connie Perez (treasurer of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce); Ernie Gutierrez (chairman of the CA Hispanic Chambers of Commerce); and MeLinda Guzman (general counsel for the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce).



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