De Leon Commentary: ‘Estamos Unidos’ President Obama Woos En Español

Estamos Unidos

A message to Latinos from President Obama.

La familia es bien importante a Presidente Obama,” Lynnette Acosta tells the family she is visiting.

That is why the president fought hard for the overhaul of the health care system – because he cares for usted.

Acosta is speaking to this family at their dining room table, but her voice will be heard by thousands of Latino voters in Florida, Nevada and Colorado.  She is a volunteer spokesperson in a new series of Spanish-language television ads the Obama re-election campaign launched Tuesday.   Obama and Romney are expected to have a tight contest in these battleground states which have large Latino populations.

The commercials are part of a nine-state, $25 million advertising blitz from the Obama camp. Transitioning from the “Si Se Puede,” slogan of 2008, “Estamos Unidos” is the 2012 tagline. The campaign told CNN that the spots feature “first person accounts from Obama for America organizers and supporters sharing their personal stories of how the President’s policies have empowered Latino families and communities.” They promote the Affordable Health Care Act which the White House touts as “giving Latinos greater control of their own health care” through a quality and affordable system.

The Republican National Committee also tried to launch its own outreach to the Latino community Tuesday. The RNC’s newly minted Director of Hispanic Outreach, Bettina Inclan, held a press briefing to promote the party’s efforts to woo Latino voters. She meant to highlight Obama’s deportations record and pivot the spotlight away from Mitt Romney’s hardline immigration stance and focus it on the economic hardships disproportionately suffered by Latino families.

Unfortunately, the briefing didn’t go too well. Reporters were more interested in talking about Romney’s harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric during the Republican presidential primaries and the expected loss of Latino voters this November.  Inclan declared, “As a candidate, to my understanding, he is still deciding what his position on immigration is.”

Inclan’s comment went viral and RNC press secretary Kirsten Kukowski jumped in to clarify that “we never said the governor is still deciding on immigration.” Indeed, Romney’s website is pretty clear that his hardline stance has not softened one bit and his team has not shaken the immigration Etch-A-Sketch. Not yet anyway.

Convincing Latino voters that Romney has their best interests in mind will be a Sisyphean task. His harsh words, seared in the minds of Latinos and other immigrant communities, cannot be retracted, much less erased from our collective minds and digital repositories.

It will not be as much of a challenge for the president. Recent polls show Obama leading Romney among Latino voters by as much as 68 percent. Yet this does not necessarily mean that Latinos will come out and vote in November.

President Obama will have to alleviate the sting of unparalleled deportation numbers and the unfulfilled promises of comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act. Broadcasting Lynnette Acosta to remind Latinos of how health care reform benefits them is one way. Pointing out that GOP lawmakers stonewalled the DREAM Act and that most Republican politicians, including Mitt Romney, have fanned immigrant animus is another.

I believe that Latinos and other minority communities know that all families are very important to the president, not just the rich and native-born. The trick is to turn them out on November 6 and vote.

You can follow Erwin de Leon on Twitter or read his blog.

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.

AboutErwin de Leon
Erwin de Leon is a Policy Researcher and writer based in Washington, DC. He writes on immigration, LGBT, and nonprofit issues. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.