How GOP Rhetoric Plays With Latinos in General Election

President Obama spoke to a group of Latino journalists last week and suggested — quite correctly — that much of the rhetoric used by Republican candidates during their debates would be used to help his case with that community during the general election:

President Obama says he is confident in his ability to win over Latino voters before next year’s elections, thanks to some added help from his Republican opponents.

During a roundtable with Hispanic media in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, Obama outlined his strategy for winning over a Latino electorate that remains supportive of him, but less enthusiastically so than in 2008. The president said he’ll contrast his record with those of the Republican candidates on hot-button issues ranging from immigration, to the economy and healthcare.

Many political observers believe that drawing a sharp contrast with Republicans will require Obama to go negative, but the president said he won’t have to use too harsh a tone to accomplish that.

“I don’t think it requires us to go negative in the sense of us running a bunch of ads that are false, or character assassinations,” Obama said. “It will be based on facts … We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim. We won’t even comment on them, we’ll just run those in a loop on Univision and Telemundo, and people can make up their own minds.”

I’m sure this is all part of his evil plan to let those Muslim Mexicans take over the country and let the Chinese troops massing on the Texas border overrun our defenses. Or something.

11 comments on this post.
  1. Mr Ed:

    I’m sure this is all part of his evil plan to let those Muslim Mexicans take over the country and let the Chinese troops massing on the Texas border overrun our defenses. Or something.

    Sorry Ed but Poe is dead. Republican rhetoric has gone so far off the tracks that even the wildest attempt at parody comes off sounding sane.

  2. Chiroptera:

    Many political observers believe that drawing a sharp contrast with Republicans will require Obama to go negative, but the president said he won’t have to use too harsh a tone to accomplish that.

    Ya know, simply pointing out the facts (and maybe some reasoned conclusions from the facts) isn’t being negative. It’s just, uh, pointing out the facts and maybe making some reasoned conclusions from the facts.

  3. D. C. Sessions:

    It’s just, uh, pointing out the facts and maybe making some reasoned conclusions from the facts.

    Do please remember that the War on Language has been going on for a long time now, and the public no longer distinguishes between quoting your opponent’s platform verbatim and Willie Horton.

  4. eric:

    We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim. We won’t even comment on them, we’ll just run those in a loop on Univision and Telemundo, and people can make up their own minds.

    As much as this is an improvement over lying attack ads, it would still be really nice if the President would actually articulate an immigration strategy. Yeah, I get that your opponents ideas are so horrible that you don’t even need to exaggerate them to score points with the voters. But still, give us a positive strategy, sir.

  5. jeevmon:

    gay Muslim Mexicans and Chinese troops. Just to be clear.

  6. laurentweppe:

    I’m sure this is all part of his evil plan to let those Muslim Mexicans take over the country and let the Chinese troops massing on the Texas border overrun our defenses.

    Barack Obama: overthrowing the free world with the perfidious help of Reality

  7. thelatinone:

    Of course, all this discussion about whether the “Latino vote” is in play is total bullshit. 2/3 of Latinos are Democrats and 1/3 are Republicans, there’s no changing that. The question is whether Latinos will turn out to vote for the President given how his immigration policy plays out. But Latinos are not single-issue voters and the economy/jobs are consistently found as the most important issue in recent surveys.

    Obama is less popular among Latinos than 3 years ago, what a surprise! But Obama is still more popular among Latinos than among any other (non-African American) group. In fact 2/3 of Latinos still approve of the President in the latest Univision poll. That just 47% are sure that they will vote for him one year before the election means nothing. Only political junkies follow the full presidential cycle, normal people start following next year. If in August 2012 47% Latinos are sure that they’ll vote for Obama, then he’s in trouble.

    GOP rhetoric, while maybe important to show that they’re crazy, will not be a factor in determining the Latino vote, partisanship will and most Latinos are not GOPers.

  8. jameshanley:

    Many political observers believe that drawing a sharp contrast with Republicans will require Obama to go negative,

    One of my pet peeves with the media is that they have a binary view of political advertising; it’s either positive or negative. In Everything You Think You Know About Politics…and Why You’re Wrong Kathleen Hall Jamieson notes how imprecise the term “negative” is in this context, and distinguishes between “attack” and “comparison” ads. Attack ads are ones that simply critique the opposition, while comparison ads critique the opposition and distinguish the candidate’s position. But the media tend to label the comparison ads as attack ads. (Her third category is advocacy ads, what the media normally call positive ads.)

  9. freemage:

    I recently posited on another forum that Obama’s generally been able to rise to power, not by the virtue of his ideas or proposals, but on the tide of crap that has been his opposition.

    1: Illinois Senate Campaign, Rd. 1: His Republican opponent (the one who was already behind Mr. Obama in the polls) self-destructs when it comes out that he tried to coerce his wife to have public sex with him in clubs.

    2: Illinois Senate Campaign, Intermission: Illinois Republican party regulars, not wanting to start a half-season campaign and be burdened with the stigma of a likely loss, opt out.

    3: Illinois Senate Campaign, Rd. 2: Desperate to not have a blank spot on the ballot, the Illinois GOP flies in Alan Keyes to run against Obama. Keyes’ subsequent success at winning 27% of the vote establishes a baseline for the insane portion of the population.

    All of this means that Obama, through no particular campaign strategy of his own, winds up getting to DC with an almost unprecedented degree of ease.

    4: Democratic Primary: Manages to hold on until the race turns into a three-way between himself, Edwards and Clinton. This is key–if either Hillary or Barack had bailed out earlier, the other one would’ve doubtless been also driven out by a massive support for Edwards. And I’m sure latent racism and sexism would’ve had nothing to do with that. Since it’s the three of them, though, an unprecedented equilibrium is reached, which is broken not by any of them building support, but by Edwards imploding in his own sex scandal.

    5: Dem. Primary, Rd 2: Down to himself and Hillary, Obama simply has to not fuck it up. Hillary finds herself torn between claiming her time in the White House as part of her experience, and simultaneously having to downplay her role in several notable Clinton Administration betrayals of the left (most notably Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell). The nomination was Obama’s to lose at that point, and he didn’t.

    Again, he didn’t have to make the usual primary fealty oaths to the base, and thus came into the general election with a lack of dirt that could be used against him.

    6: The General Election: McCain, on paper, was a perfect candidate to oppose Obama. No really extreme views, some goo-goo street cred, war hero, and oh, yeah, very experienced. But the campaign founders and flounders, as the candidate perpetually seems vaguely lost and unsure of what he wants to achieve. And his biggest claim over Obama–to-wit, his experience in DC–is undermined painfully by his inexplicable selection of Sarah Palin, who is so blatantly unready even for the non-job that is Vice President (let alone the horror show that would occur if she were to actually succeed McCain), that Obama again simply gets by without having to do more than point at the alternative.

    Which leads us to the current slew of GOP candidates. Seriously, I see history repeating itself. Once again, for some reason, the GOP is the gang that can’t shoot straight. It doesn’t matter which of them wins, at this stage–they all have created a huge trail of recent flubs that could form the basis of the Obama campaign.

    Which once again gives Obama the luxury of virtually ignoring his base. He can play center-right field, and the Left has to go along with him, or else they get to see President Perry/Cain/Romney/Gingrinch. Can anyone think of any of those that doesn’t have them sitting up in the middle of the night, sweating in terror?

  10. Foster Disbelief:

    We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim. We won’t even comment on them, we’ll just run those in a loop on Univision and Telemundo

    I believe that would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

  11. mithrandir:

    Mr Ed says:

    Ed Brayton says:
    I’m sure this is all part of his evil plan to let those Muslim Mexicans take over the country and let the Chinese troops massing on the Texas border overrun our defenses. Or something.

    Sorry Ed but Poe is dead. Republican rhetoric has gone so far off the tracks that even the wildest attempt at parody comes off sounding sane.

    That happened a long time ago.  Tom Tancredo has been warning us about Hezbollah infiltrating Mexico for a long time now.  (Fair warning: link goes to far right loony blog.)

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