NOW with Alex Wagner | May 09, 2012
>>> the obama campaign is out with a new round of spanish-language ads in the swing states of colorado, nevada and florida. the new commercials come as the gop's latest efforts to reach out to latino voters got off to a bumpy start when hispanic outreach coordinator for the republican party went off script and said mitt romney is "still deciding" what his position on immigration is. joining us is telemundo's jose diaz -balart, the man with all the answers. great to see you, as always, jose .
>> good to see you. thank you.
>> jose , what do you make of the comments that the latino outreach coordinator, who said basically i don't know what mitt romney 's position on immigration is, and then tried to walk that back, saying "i misspoke, romney 's position is clear and is on the website." how bad do you think that hurts with voters?
>> really not any worse than he is already, and let me tell you why, alex. because again, to quote bob dylan , when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. so, betty, who is a fabulous spokesperson for the republican party in the latino community, simply said what i think the whole party recognizes, which is that as a political party , the republicans don't have a very clear message on immigration reform , and the messages that have been coming out over these last months has been a message which hasn't exactly been positive. it's been a pretty negative message, you know, deport yourselves has i believe been the clearest position that romney has taken so far.
>> on immigration reform .
>> self-deportation. but i mean, i guess, jose , does it surprise you that at this point he is very likely the republican nominee? in many ways, effectively begun a campaign in a general election . he doesn't have a spanish-language website, has done limited interviews with spanish-language media, says he would veto the dream act as it stands now. he hasn't even come out in terms of supporting marco rubio 's dream-like prescription. and he has said himself that the current polling among, republican polling among hispanics spells doom for the party.
>> so, why isn't there more outreach?
>> yeah. well, and let's talk about the latest polls on the latino community, vis-a-vis mitt romney . one says that the president has 80% of the support, and the other one says the president has 70% of the latino voters that have been asked on this issue. so, it's a very steep, uphill climb for governor romney . here's the question that i have. and to quote governor rendell, a lot of people in the hispanic community are asking the governor to man up, and say, listen, what specifically are you proposing on immigration reform , on the dream act ? and we have to remember that marco rubio , the senator from florida, has yet to give any details on what his proposal would be. so, it's unfair to ask romney to comment on rubio 's proposal when rubio hasn't really put forth a very specific proposal yet. so, i think it's time for all of these people to man up on immigration reform and decide what exactly the position is. i think they were correct, he's still working on it. it shows the difficulty of pivoting from a primary to a general election .
>> governor, do you think mitt romney is going to -- you were saying during break, wow, i mean, it's almost -- mitt romney is almost helping the president at this point by ignoring these sections of the electorate. do you think he will, in fact, as jose says, man up?
>> well, i don't think he's ever going to take a position on immigration that hispanics are going to like. i think what he'll try to do is probably come out for rubio 's bill, but rubio 's bill, and jose , correct me if i'm wrong, rubio 's bill is very unsatisfactory to most hispanics , at least because it doesn't guarantee a line to citizenship.
>> well, it's still murky, governor, in the sense that because he hasn't given any specifics -- and i asked chuck schumer last sunday on our public affairs show based in d.c. if he would support or even talk to rubio about the issue, and schumer said, listen, i haven't seen the details, and unless there are details, what are we going to talk about? the sky is blue and the clouds are white? the specifics have to be out there. and so, i think that rubio has so far implied that there is a way that these dreamers could get working documents, get study, you know, be able to study legally, be able to later get a work permit, and then eventually get residency. and if you get residency, eventually you get your citizenship. so, it's still murky. again, we haven't seen the details of any rubio plan. i think that's why romney is having a difficult time to answer that. but we have to remember, and i'm sorry i'm talking so much about this issue, but we have to remember that on the obama side, there's 1.2 million deportations.
>> right, and jose --
>> under his administration, and that has affected a ton of people.
>> you bring up a very fair point, which is the sort of flip side here, what the administration is doing, increased number of deportations. i want to call everyone's attention to interesting analysis from the brookings institution . when you talk about the hispanic vote and the percentage of the population that they represent, it is not a parallel percentage of the voting population that they represent, which is to say for every 100 hispanic residents in this country, only 44 are eligible to vote. among white residents, for every 100 white residents of the u.s., 78 are able to vote. so when you talk about turning out the hispanic vote, i mean, you really have to turn out all of the eligible hispanic vote for it to make a difference.
>> yeah, but that number is changing every day. this is the fastest growing segment of the population that will be eligible to vote, if not now, then two, four, six, certainly 10, 20 years from now. it will be just a dominant force in the elections. and my question for jose , actually, is there are things that the obama administration has done to alienate latino voters and haven't i don't think pushed immigration reform as much as latinos hoped and thought he would. so, is there room for romney to run? can he exploit any economic issues which i know are latinos ' top issues? is there any place for him to increase his share? and if there is, what does he need to do? i know he's not going to win the latino population, but how high does he need to get to at least be within --
>> -- the possibility, to be competitive?
>> these are great questions. number one, you talk about the growth of the hispanic population, and alex showed that graphic. let's remember that every month in the united states , 50,000 latinos turn 18 years of age, every single month. if they register to vote, it's going to make a difference before november the 6th. on the issue of romney , i don't think obama has really insulted or hurt the latino sensitivity. i think what it's done is, by saying you support immigration reform but not proposing specifics on immigration reform , by deporting 1.2 million people but not having a plan "b" once that deportation number reaches a record number , i think what it may do is, they're not upset. i think what they are is disillusioned. and so, that causes the question, what happens on november 6th ? if he needs that number of overwhelming support to come out on the 6th of november, and a lot of people don't have the heat for him, then maybe they won't come out to vote.
>> and that's the question, is voter turnout , a big question.
>> but jose , don't you think there's going to be a major effort, not only by the democratic party and the obama campaign , but by groups like america votes to register and turn out latinos ? i think you're going to see an incredible amount of activity.
>> absolutely, governor. as a matter of fact, we have an active program in telemundo network that's been going on now for six months, which is called vote for your future, and it's specifically targeting latinos , young people , and letting them know that, later, you can't complain about what happens if you have the possibility of registering to vote and you don't. so yeah, we're going to see it. but again, and patricia's point, the economy, more than 10% unemployment in the hispanic community, that has an impact on what people feel come november 6th . but i've got to tell you, the immigration issue is really hurting romney .
>> jose diaz -balart, thank you, sir. always a pleasure to see