GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp Goes Into “Latino Denial” Mode

The following post comes from Think Progress and it is example #1,200 as to why some Republican politicians still don’t get it, and probably never will.


This week’s GOP Latino Denial winner is Rep. Tim Huelskamp. Here is what he said on the radio earlier this week:

“[It's] very discouraging,” Huelskamp told conservative radio host Steve Deace on Tuesday, that Republicans are trying “to win votes from the so-called ‘Hispanic voter.’” The conservative congressman argued that trying to persuade Latino voters to become Republicans was “very distracting” because their policy preferences are too disparate. He then conceded that Democrats had done far better winning their votes:

HUELSKAMP: If you’re going to talk about giving a pathway to citizenship before you seal the border. They made a mistake in ’86; I’m not going to repeat that. That’s not going to go through the House. What is interesting and very distracting and very discouraging is, Steve, after the election, the general discussion from Republicans in Washington was, we’ve got to do everything we can to win votes from the so-called “Hispanic voter.” And I say so-called because there’s all kinds of varieties of beliefs within that immigrant community. And the idea that suddenly, instead of voting 70 percent for the Democrats, somehow they’re going to start voting for Republican? No. What Republicans need to do is get off their rear ends and go out, outside of Washington, and talk about what they’re for!

Whether Huelskamp likes it or not, U.S. Latino voters see immigration reform as a personal matter, regardless of their politics. As Latino Decisions states:

Latino Decisions released new polling data today highlighting why immigration reform has become the number one political issue for Latino voters, and the answer is close personal connections between Latino voters and Latino undocumented immigrants.  The poll finds that 58% of Latino registered voters now cite immigration reform as the top priority for the Congress and President, up from 35% in November 2012.  One reason is that 63% of Latino voters say they personally know someone who is an undocumented immigrant, either a member of their family or a close personal friend.  Further, 39% of Latino voters say they personally know someone, or a family who has faced deportation or detention for immigration reasons, and increase of 14 points over 2011, when 25% of Latino voters said they personally knew someone who had faced deportation or detention.  It is clear that the immigration reform issue is one that Latinos agree with in principle, but that Latino voters are also directly connected to, and intertwined with the undocumented immigrant population in the United States.

If Huelskamp sounds familiar to you, he was the one who gave that bizarre interview last year on Morning Joe.

#NoMames: Conservative Extremist Media Still Stays Clueless About U.S. Latinos

Here's a way to NOT learn from the results of the presidential elections: instead of blaming your own failings, many extremist conservative media types just want to blame others. You would think that the time for self-reflection was truly that: looking at one's own internal problems. Guess not.

The latest comes from the conservative newspaper, The Washington Examiner, with an assist in ignorance from the National Review.

Stung by their election defeat, Republicans are eager to try to woo Hispanic voters, arguing that once their party puts immigration reform behind them, the ethnic group will be open to the GOP’s conservative message

But an analysis of economic and social data suggests that even outside of immigration, native-born Hispanics, who make up the vast majority of such voters in the U.S., have far higher rates of welfare use, single-parent households and low tax liabilities — all factors that usually indicate a better fit with the Democratic Party than with Republicans.

One in 5 households headed by U.S.-born Hispanics are in poverty, compared with just 10 percent of non-Hispanic U.S.-born white households, and 40 percent of the Hispanic households use at least one major welfare program — twice the rate of white households.

They are only half as likely to be self-employed, and 50 percent of their households with children are single-mother homes, compared with just 29 percent of native-born white homes.

“The underlying demographics make this a population that’s a tough sell for the Republican message,” said Steven A. Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, who crunched the demographic numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Yes, this is the same CIS that was identified as a "hate group." And the slanting of this piece is pretty sad considering that there is data that would counter the fuzzy math that the CIS has crafted. The biggest goof is that the CIS misses out on is actual data from Gallup that says that half of U.S. Latino voters identify themselves as independents, meaning that independents are more likely to be swayed.

A majority of U.S. Hispanics identify as political independents (51%) rather than as Democrats (32%) or Republicans (11%). However, once their partisan leanings are taken into account, most Hispanics affiliate with the Democratic Party (52%) rather than the Republican Party (23%). Both sets of numbers shift more decisively in the Democrats' favor among the roughly half of U.S. Hispanics who are registered to vote.

Yet CIS and the Examiner would rather blame it on U.S. Latinos instead of looking at what CIS publishes and how it hides behind a supposedly neutral name to achieve its end goal: continue to justify ignorance and anti-immigration rhetoric towards U.S. Latino voters. The biggest mistake these groups make is that more U.S. Latinos might be open to some policies, but to paraphrase Senator Marco Rubio, the conversation stops when the talk of deporting grandmothers dominates the dialogue. 

As a result, what happens with these so-called CIS studies is that publications like the National Review allow their columnists to spew boberías such as this one:

Steve Dinan at the Washington Times highlights the data on native-born Hispanics that point to their natural inclination to support the Left. The native-born, who account for the overwhelming majority of Hispanic voters, have higher rates of poverty, welfare use, single-parent families — none of which is suggestive of openness to a message of small government and moral traditionalism. As a Stanford political scientist told Dinan, “It turns out that Latinos are systematically to the left of whites on an entire array of economic-policy matters.” That doesn’t mean Republicans can’t get a share of the Hispanic vote, in the usual GOP range of between a quarter and a third of the total — but there’s a ceiling that’s a lot lower than the sugar-plum dreams of some commentators. As VDH’s satirical piece on the home page suggests, Republicans can either embrace reductions in immigration or forget about being the limited-government party.

As for the "satirical" piece that is referenced in the previous paragraph, all you need to do is read this excerpt from that column and just shake your head. It is time for

Family values in the Latino community may be defined somewhat differently from the way elite Republican consultants imagine, perhaps more along the ancient Spanish notion of a patron/client relationship that ultimately originated in Rome. 

In our time, the patron is seen as the big and powerful federal government, which has an obligation to care for its less-well-off and unfortunately all-too-often-dependent and oppressed clients, who in turn will vote in thanks for state help with food, shelter, education, and health care. The patron of the classical hacienda protects the client against outlaws and oppressive forces — in this case supposedly rich old white guys (see Obama’s “punish our enemies”), who are not sensitive to the needs of a victimized “other.” If Republicans wish to win on this more European and statist notion of family values, then I would suggest trying to expand food stamps, add more coverage to Obamacare, and forgive delinquent mortgages, student loans, and small-business loans. The key would be to fashion a family-values platform that worries more about the collective familia than the more individualist and stereotypically Anglo-Saxon agendas of the well-off. High taxes and generous redistributionist spending are far more a mark of family values than is being against abortion or for traditional marriage.

Can these guys just stop writing? This isn't about U.S. Latinos, extremists, this is about you.

Meet Bryan Fischer, the November 2012 #NoMames Award Recipient

Guess Bryan Fischer didn't get the memo about last week's election and why the GOP is hurting in its quest to gain more favor from U.S. Latino voters.

Just watch this. Seriously, just watch it. It is only about 1 minute long, and we say #NoMames. Hey, Bryan Fischer, you know why you have no clue about U.S. Latinos? Because you are a "pendejo by nature."

Yes, he said it, and it case you want to read about what he said, you can check out the original post. Here is just a snippet:

On Friday's program, Fischer said that America never had a problem with immigration when the bulk of the immigrants came from Europe because they shared our heritage, values, and worldview. But recently, most immigration has been coming from non-European third-world countries where people do not possess the Protestant Work Ethic and expect the government to take care of them.

In fact, said Fischer, Hispanics do not vote Democratic because of the issue of immigration but rather because "they are socialists by nature" who want open borders simply so that they can bring in their families to "benefit from the plunder of the wealth of the United States."

As Fischer sees it, there is nothing the Republican can do to ever woo Hispanics away from the Democratic Party … and that is "one of the reasons why we've got to clamp down on immigration."

We can't, we just can't. Yes, people, this is part of America. And for those who want to know who Bryan Fischer is, he is the director of (wait for it), the American Family Association, also now known as the Pendejo Party.

The Macondo Effect: Why Mitt Romney’s Win in Puerto Rico Means Nothing

There is reality and then there is Macondo, the fictional town of irrationality made so memorable by the writings of Gabriel García Márquez. Tonight, GOP nominee Mitt Romney is living in Macondo, after trouncing his opponents to gain 20 delegates in the Puerto Rico's GOP primary.


Romney, who needed a victory and a resounding one, is clearly out of of touch if he considers that his Puerto Rico win is a feather in his elusive Don Quijote quest to win a serious share of the US Latino vote in the national presidential elections. (The former Massachusetts governor gained more than 80% of the island's GOP vote, which totaled around 150,000, a much lower expectation than the estimated 300,000 that was previously predicted, as if there are 300,000 active Republicans living in Puerto Rico.)

Yet, if you asked Romney tonight, he sounded decisive and confident. He would tell you that yes, he has found the key to gaining the US Latino vote and moving it into the GOP column. Listen to this one from The New York Times:

“Those people who think Latinos won’t vote for a Republican need to talk to the people of Puerto Rico,” Mr. Romney said, speaking at an evening rally [in Illinois]. “I intend to get Latino voters to vote Republican and take back the White House.”

Yes, Romney is living in Macondo.

Here is why:

  • This entire GOP primary was critical for pro-statehood and Republican governor Luis Fortuño to bring the issue of the island's political status into the limelight. Fortuño had publicly endorsed Romney and unlike other mainland governors, Fortuño worked hard the last few days, so much so that even his social media sites were all Romney all the time. The Friday night rally for Romney was classic Puerto Rican politics, where such an event would be seen as over the top on the mainland. Did Fortuño, who is very unpopular on the island and is facing an extremely tough re-election bid, achieve his goal? Sure thing. He got Romney the 20 delegates. Luis came through for Mitt. What will Mitt do for Luis in return?
  • How can the Romney campaign seriously put the Puerto Rican victory within the context of gaining more of the US Latino vote? First, Puerto Rico, even though it holds primaries, cannot participate in a national election for president. Second, add Fortuño's establishment muscle (even though the turnout was low), Romney's pledge to honor the island's political status plebiscite if he were to become President, and most importantly, Rick Santorum's English Only fail, and no wonder Romney won easily. Yet, if the Romney campaign is going to make this their "proof" that he can increase the US Latino vote, none of these primary votes from Puerto Rico wouldn't even count. The campaign is painting the US Latino vote with a brush that couldn't even produce a painting even if it painted itself with a paint by numbers set. Hence, Romney is living in Macondo.
  • Romney's logic is flawed. Isn't it safe to say that almost EVERYONE in Puerto Rico is of Latino origin? Hell, Romney could proudly proclaim the same thing about winning the key Guamanian vote as well, since he also took the GOP primary in Guam last week. Seems like Romney could be president of all US colonial territories. He's winning those votes.
  • Romney played the "I love Puerto Rico" card to win the primary (because Santorum's English Only comments just were disastrous to Puerto Rican voters), but we find it hard to believe that Romney will now be changing his stances on immigration, stopping his association with Anti-Immigration King Kris Kobach, and dropping his opposition to the Dream Act (which is highly popular with US Latino voters). We also doubt that even though Romney was telling Puerto Rican voters that it's cool by him that they speak as much Spanish as they want, official English (a position he supports) be damned, Romney will wake up and realize that the US Latino is complex, diverse (how would Romney play in California in a national election?), and quite frankly, generally pissed at the GOP's rhetoric. Does Romney now think that a primary that gets him 20 delegates and 20 delegates only will prove to the world that he can begin to chip away at the GOP's dismally low approval ratings amongst US Latino voters?

The fact is simple: Fortuño worked the primary hard because having Romney in the White House would give Fortuño a better chance of putting a 51st star on the US flag. But this is no slam dunk for Fortuño, who might not even win his own election in November as the incumbent, nor is it one for Romney, who has become so desperate in "proving" that he can gain more than 14% of the US Latino vote, he would campaign in Macondo, where reality is an illusion and illusions only go so far. 

Wonder Why the GOP Is Alienating US Latino Voters? Ask Mitt Romney, “El Despistado”

The word "despistado" in Spanish literally means "off the track." In the right context in English, it describes someone who is out of touch. Last night during the South Carolina debate, GOP candidate Mitt Romney was a "despistado" when it comes to immigration issues and the Latino vote.

Romney got the endorsement of the Miami Gang of Three

First of all, we won't even comment on the booing that Fox News' Juan Williams got from the audience when he asked that even though Romney's dad was born in Mexico, why has Romney's immigration stance alienated Latino voters? Much has been said already about Romney's association with the Father of Arizona's SB 1070 law, Kris Kobach, to the point that the Mexican press and his own Mexican cousins have criticized Romney's position.

The long and short of all this. Romney is clear:

  • He will never support the DREAM Act.
  • He suggested that all undocumented in the United States should be deported back to their own countries and get to the back of the immigration line.
  • He wants a secure border (read a border fence) that would stem the tide of illegal immigration.
  • It is all about Mexico, there is no mention of other places where illegal immigration is also prevalent, like Canada and Puerto Rico.

Romney is taking a huge risk and it is safe to say that his comments won't curry the favor of the vast majority of Latino voters. Maybe Romney will wake up, but as long as he praises Kobach, he is only alienating many voters who in the end see this issue as a key one for the 2012 election. Sure, Latinos want jobs but they also want respect. Romney's comments just play into the anti-Latino, anti-immigration rhetoric that is hurting the GOP party. If Romney were smart, he would follow the lead of the country's top Latino evangelical and just stop his neo-nativist views now or else he will blink and congratulate President Obama for winning another term.

By the way, we are NOT the only ones who are saying this. For a GOP perspective, check out the page of Café Con Leche Republicans and the brilliant essay by Professor Stephen A. Nuño we published this weekend.


Estimado Señor @NewtGringrich: Your Spanish Translations Are Awful

So with the Iowa caucus tonight, GOP candidate New Gingrich and his campaign are reaching out to Latinos in Iowa, who constitute about 5% of the state's total population. On January 2, the Newt con Nosotros email sent out a bilingual email to its database. While we applaud the Gingrich campaign for trying to reach voters in both English and Spanish, we would like to offer Newt a little advice: GET A BETTER TRANSLATOR IN SPANISH. The clunkiness of the Spanish text and its literal voice only confirm that the Gingrich campaign should benefit from actually hiring native Spanish speakers who can actually WRITE in Spanish.

The translation, to put it mildly, reads like a bad Google Translate. If Newt were in an college-level Spanish class, we would give him a solid C-. The result is an email that sounds unnatural and forced in Spanish. Here is the email below, without comments in red.

There is nothing more awful than reading a literal Spanish translation that makes you cringe as you read it. Communication in Spanish is an editorial skill, and bad translation only kills your intent and makes most Spanish speakers we know shake their heads.


Estamos a unas horas de la votación en Iowa y Newt le necesita! (the "leísmo" is so archaic and so continental Spanish, it ia wrong. And the last time we checked, Spanish exclamations start with an inverted exclamation point)

Es importante que el mensaje de Newt llegue a todos los ciudadanos de Iowa. La comunidad hispana es importante para el éxito de esta campaña y usted puede marcar la diferencia realizando llamadas y empujando a los ciudadanos de Iowa a votar el 3 de enero. (Newt is literally telling Latino voters in Iowa to physically push their fellow citizens. That could get dangerous. Does he have the health insurance to cover that? Also phrases like "realizando llamadas" just sound clunky. Keep it simple, Newt: "haciendo llamadas" is a better choice.)

Lo mejor es que usted puede ser parte importante de esto desde la comodidad de su propia casa. (Clunky, literal and hard to understand. It's like they inserted the English into an automatic translation machine and clicked on SUBMIT.)

Siga estas instrucciones simples por favor: ("Simples" can mean idiotic like a simpleton. "Sencillas" is a better choice here.)

1.       Vaya a y cree su cuenta. ("Crear" connotes creation. Newt could have used clearer words like "iniciar," "establecer," even "abrir" works here!)


2.        Una vez creada la cuenta vaya a 
(Why why why use the formation, it reeks of literal translation.)

3.       Eso le llevará a la página de llamadas telefónicas. Seleccione español o inglés. (Starting a phrase like this with "Eso" is too literal.)


4.       Tome nota de los e-mails de personas que quieran ayudar. (It's ok to not use Anglicisms like "e-mails," there is no real reason to not use "direcciones electrónicas" or something clearer and in Spanish.)

5.       Use Notes si las personas le dicen en qué quieren ayudar. (Ah, yes the whole issue that we give you instructions in Spanish but we use tabs in English. Explain that more. Also, the whole "en qué" construction is clunky as well.)


6.       Por favor, consiga cuantos más posibles voluntarios, familiares y amigos!

Sólo unos minutos de su día pueden marcar una gran diferencia en Iowa. Newt quiere que estemos con él y no para él a fin de devolver a este país a la senda correcta. 

Feliz Año Nuevo a todos. Gracias por su ayuda. Juntos podemos reconstruir los Estados Unidos que amamos. 

(Another bad use of Spanish punctuation and the whole "cuántos más posible" phrase is another bad literal example. Second sentence reads like an English sentence, and what does the third sentence mean in Spanish? Semantically it is awful. And the last sentence is even more literal and even more clunky)


Gingrich’s 2007 Comment About Spanish as the “Language of Living in a Ghetto” Resurfaces

Yes, in 2007 Newt Gingrich said that the Spanish language is "ghetto," and it is clear that if he suddenly hadn't become the next great GOP frontrunner not known as Mitt Romney, this story would have never resurfaced. But it has, and Ginrich's apology in Spanish is a bit ironic (and funny).

For a little background, the Gingrich comments where he called Spanish the "language of living in a ghetto" occurred in 2007, when the former Speaker of the House was considering a run for the 2008 GOP nomination.

Here is the original 2007 report from MSNBC. Click here to see video. The first part of the video covers what Gingrich said. As reported by The Associated Press at the time:


“The government should quit mandating that various documents be printed in any one of 700 languages depending on who randomly shows up” to vote, said Gingrich, who is considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. He made the comments in a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women.

“The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. … We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto,” Gingrich said to cheers from the crowd of more than 100.

“Citizenship requires passing a test on American history in English. If that’s true, then we do not have to create ballots in any language except English,” he said.

Now it appearas that this 2007 story is back in the limelight, as Politico reported that Republican opposition to Gingrich has resurfaced the story through an unnamed campaign adviser:

This adviser, who shared the video, also noted with some awe that the former speaker himself had last month blamed "Republican incompetence" for losing Latino votes.

"This video could be devastating to GOP efforts to court Hispanics if he were the nominee," said the adviser.

Asked what Gingrich's "ghetto" comments say about his discipline, a Gingrich spokesman suggested the candidate's performance so far in this campaign answered the question.

"The final merits of whether a candidate is capable of leading the country will be decided beginning in Iowa and going through Tampa," said Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond. "Based on what we’ve seen on the campaign trail so far in debates and other forums, there is no question that Newt Gingrich is capable of being commander-in-chief."

Why Marco Rubio’s Family History Story Matters

To those who will support Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio's comments about his family history, which he has now changed from his official campaign story, they will just ignore this post.

The AP reported over the weekend that support for Rubio was unwavering in some circles, especially in the Miami exile community, which has had a long history of criticzing the communist governement of Fidel Castro and have fervently supported a US embargo of Cuba that is now entering its fifth decade.

… Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said the attacks will only make Rubio stronger by causing Republicans to come to his defense.

"There's no question he has an amazing life story. His family came here to pursue a better life, and that is all accurate. There's folks out there who have seen a great success story and are plotting to figure out how to take him down," Spicer said.

The head of the Miami-based Cuban American National FoundationPepe Hernandez, himself an exile and longtime opponent of Castro, said Rubio's parents' initial departure date was unimportant.

"There were a number of people who came here during the Batista regime because they were against Batista somehow," he said. "Then they returned to Cuba when Castro came in because they thought now things were going to change, and then after some time they realized this was not going to happen."

"Maybe their case is not exactly the same. They really came here as immigrants, but the second time the reason was that they couldn't live in Cuba under those circumstances. I don't see any difference between his parents and myself and everyone else who came here."

Former Sen. Mel Martinez who left Cuba as a teenager after the revolution, said the Post story showed "a gross lack of understanding about the Cuban exile experience. The fact is that they would not have left Cuba permanently if not for extreme fear of persecution and in search of freedom, like so many of us did."

Ok, even with the support of fellow Cuban Americans (Sen. Martinez, can you really compare 1956 to 1961 in terms of what "extreme fear of persecution" really means? And why do Cubans have the sole possession on political repression? Maybe the good senator can talk to El Salvadorians, Nicaraguans, Chileans, Argentines, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Bolivians, etc?), the fact is: Rubio told one story while he was running for US Senate, but he has now changed his story after the truth about his family was shared. But we will give Rubio the benefit of the doubt, even though his explanation is another sad example of K-Street spin, the same type of Washington actions that Rubio railed against when we was the Latino Tea Party Darling of Florida.

And yes, this story would not affect Rubio's national appeal as a potential GOP 2012 VP candidate if only Cubans were the only Latinos in the United States who vote. Even with their poltical clout on US Cuban policy, Cuban Americans constitute a very small percentage of the estimated 55 million US citizens who of are Latino descent. And that is Rubio's problem.

The major voting bloc, and some would argue, the true swing vote in the US Latino population is of Mexican American descent and in states such as Arizona (where Presdident Obama currently leads in the latest polls against Republican canidates), Nevada, and Colorado, Rubio's change of his family's story will have it issues, if indeed he were to earn the VP nomination.

In states where the issues of immigration are still raw in the minds of Latino voters, Rubio has lost some political credibility. The senator, who is not a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, can longer claim with 100% accuracy that he comes from a family of exiles. In fact, his family took advantage of the many same immigration policies of the 1950s that people from other Latin American countries did. To many, his flip-flop statements about his own history raise several complex questions about what it is to be Latino in 21st-century America.

While the vast majority of US Latino voters see the economy as a major issue, the issue of where you came from still hits home with many. Rubio's actions played with identity politics and now that his hands got caught in the cookie jar, he has stumbled. And that, we think, will be something most US Latino voters will remember.