Then on June 1, like a gift from the election gods, came the May jobs report, providing an ideal launching point for Romney's Latino campaign. Not only was the report entirely underwhelming -- only 69,000 new jobs were created and unemployment ticked up to 8.2% -- it also showed Hispanic unemployment rose to 11% in May from 10.3% in April. For the Romney camp, which blasted out a searing statement on the "devastating" report within 30 minutes of its release, it seems these numbers provided precisely the opening they'd been waiting for.
Armed with fresh ammunition, Romney on Tuesday launched a full-scale offensive aimed at Latino voters. It started with the release of a Spanish-language web ad that uses May's jobs report to rebut Obama's message, delivered in a recent Spanish-language TV ad, that America is on the "right path." One day later, Romney announced his "Hispanic Leadership Team," members of which include rising Republicans stars such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. Finally, peppered throughout the past 48 hours have been a bevy of bilingual press releases, featuring prominent Latino Republicans making the case that Obama's economic policies have been disproportionately detrimental to their community.
Romney and his most high-profile Hispanic surrogates have made the case that immigration is not the driving issue for Latino voters -- it's the economy, as it is with everyone else. That theory will be tested in the months ahead, as Romney confronts some of the unpalatable policy specifics he advocated during his primary run. For now, Romney will reach out to Latino voters with a simple question, one that echoes in any language and across every demographic: Where are the jobs?
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