Martin Bashir | May 23, 2012
>> we begin this wednesday with just two days to go to a holiday weekend and the unofficial start of summer, but in the presidential race things are already heating up for a long hot and relentless period of campaigning and while you might be dusting off the picnic basket today, mitt romney and the president were carb loading prepping for the race to the polls in november. for the president it was a commencement address to the air force academy cadets in the foothills of swing state colorado and the chance to tout his foreign policy achievements.
>> you're the first class in nine years that will graduate into a world where there are no americans fighting in iraq. for the first time in your lives and thanks to air force personnel who did their part, osama bin laden is no longer a threat to our country.
>> for mitt romney it was his chance to target a key voting group speaking before a group of latino small business owners in washington and opening with a familiar line of fire.
>> sadly, president obama has decided to attack success. it is no wonder so many of his own supporters are saying to stop the war on job creators. make no mistake. you won't wake up every day and wonder if the president is on your side.
>> those remarks come as new polling shows romney facing a steep deficit with latino voters. the president with a huge 34-point lead among latinos , 61-27% according to a brand new nbc wall street journal and telemundo poll. what's more, just 26% of latinos view romney positively while 35% see him in a negative light. the president enjoys a healthy 35-point positive favorability margin. the polling also shows latinos more optimistic about the economy and the nation's general direction than overall voters. the challenge for the president may lie in the margin of motivation. with latino voters showing less enthusiasm for the upcoming election by a gap of 13 points. let's get right to it and find out. our panel is with us. app amarie cox and in washington democratic strategist julian epstein. jose , if i can start with you, the president enjoys high favorability ratings, yet he hasn't managed to pass comprehensive immigration reform but i guess anything is better than romney 's recommendation during the debates which you will recall he suggested people here illegally should self deport.
>> yeah, and, martin, another added issue that i think tamps down the enthusiasm you may otherwise see amongst some latino supporters of president obama is that during these last three years there have been 1.2 million deporestations of undocumented immigrants into this country and the vast majority according to the white house criminals but many who have been here and have roots in this country who do not have a criminal record , so we're not talking about small numbers. we're not talking about some pain and some aspects of this communities. we're talking about 1.2 million human beings that have been deported at the same time no real movement towards any comprehensive immigration reform .
>> and also, jose , there doesn't appear to be much negativity in relation to the president because as we just showed in our polling, latinos are still overwhelmingly in favor of the president as opposed to romney .
>> absolutely. and the president has always had the support, i think, of the overwhelming number of latinos in this country. i think that where as i think we can all agree that mitt romney and the republican party don't have a steep hill to climb, they have to climb mount everest , and with not a lot of time left. but the other side of the coin, martin, is enthusiasm and voter turnout , and that may be, may not most difficult thing the president has to deal with.
>> julian , as jose just says, is it an exaggeration to say that unless romney can somehow turn this around, then the latino margin is likely to deliver an election victory for the president if these polls stay the same up to the election.
>> i think that's right. i think the latino margin and the african-american margin as well. the two things the democrats have to worry about are enthusiasm as ballard spoke about and secondly the democrats seem to be closer to 70% rather than 61. i think the two things going against the republicans now and romney in particular is the positions they have taken and opposition to legal immigration reform in the congress but secondly, and this is a huge issue, martin, the supreme court will decide on the arizona case in june. the arizona case is the most anti-immigrant, anticivil rights measure we have seen in decades. if it is upheld, it will allow not just arizona but states throughout the south that pass laws that provide for the indefinite holding, indefinite detaining of anybody of color and other kinds of miss treatment if they don't have simple papers proving their legal status .
>> that will sharpen the debate beyond anything i think that we have seen.
>> okay. anna marie , romney spent a great deal of time on education during his remarks. i would like you to listen to something he said. listen to this.
>> as president i am going to give the parents of every low income and special needs student the chance to choose where their child goes to school. for the first time in history federal education funds will be linked to the student so that parents can send their child to any public or charter school of their choice.
>> anna marie , he says he will offer school choice to every student, no word on how he will do that, and this coming from a man who when he was governor in massachusetts caused student fees for higher education to go up by 63%.
>> yeah. it is interesting for him to double down on this as a candidate. i think especially actually in relation to latino vote for his wishy-washiness on the dream act that is obviously important to latino voters to allow access to public higher education . you're right, like federal education dollars are not the dollars that are primarily spent per student in every state. money is usually comes from the states for education. he may want to change that. federal involvement in education hasn't turned out so well with the no child left behind act, so it is interesting also this is a case where the conservative line of not interfering with states is muddled with panhandlering and that's what romney is doing here and i am not sure if voters will fall for it.
>> i am not sure the department of education can afford.
>> i was going to tell you guys that, yeah --
>> go ahead.
>> i was going to tell you there is something that mr. romney has not been wishy-washy on and i hate to correct you, he has not been wishy-washy on the dream act . so far in this presidential campaign he has been clear he opposes the dream act , even the most limits versions of the dream act and has not been wishy-washy about that.
>> she was making the point --
>> no you it seems there may be.
>> jose , we understand that marco rubio is speaking at the conference where romney spoke just a short time ago. do you think that choosing this man as his vice president might well enable romney to at least reduce the gap between him and the president in relation to latino support, latino voters?
>> that's such a tough question to answer.
>> you're the man to answer it.
>> i will tell you, couldn't hurt him with latino voters because he really has very little to go on so far. martin, on the telemundo nbc and wall street journal poll we came out with, there is interesting numbers that i think should be sprinkled into this conversation with our friends here because one of the things i find interesting among many is that 49% of the latinos that are polled say that they feel that their children will be worse off than they were in this country versus 45% that believe that children will be better off. add that to the fact that they say, for example, that in gas prices obama has been better dealing with gas prices , 11% versus 49%, who think he is actually been detrimental to dealing with price of gasoline . these issues that are pocketbook issues that deal very directly with the day in and day out existence of so many people in this country will have a lot to do with voter turnout . they may like the president. they may feel his heart is in the right place but if my gas prices are taking a big chunk out of the daily budget and i think that the economy and the future of this country is going to see that my children don't have it as well off as die and many don't have it very well off to begin with, i think that's of concern.
>> julian , going back to romney , he said today that minority children suffer the most as a result of failing education. while promising every child can flee a failing school, he gave no word on how he might fix that school. i mean, again, this is a man who throws out these statements in big areas, financially big areas, and also areas demanding real thoughtful policies and he just tosses it out and no one seems to challenge him or ask him what does that mean in practice? does he plan to fix failing schools? does he even have a strategy to do so?
>> yeah, as i said before, these kind of proposals are only a slightly better way of reaching across the racial lines than singing who let the dogs out to a bunch of african-american children. i think that's right. the republican plan has no provisions for any -- to fund any of these things. in fact, the budget that he has supported, the ryan budget, actually calls for cuts in most of the programs that would do exactly the kind of thing he is speaking about. just to go back to mr. ballard's point again, at the end of the day with hispanic voters i think that romney cannot run away from what the republican position has been on legal immigration and it is not going to be able to run away from the arizona case which i think is going to be a huge shot over the bow to every hispanic american in this country and republicans can't run away from that. democrats will hang a lantern on that every time they get, every chance they get, so i think that gap will widen.
>> don't forget, julian , there is always the etch-a-sketch. jose , i am sorry, we have to go. we don't have enough time. thank you so much, jose diaz , anna marie cox and julian epstein. thank you