SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Can Mitt Romney overcome the Latino gap?
Polls show President Obama running well ahead of the presumptive GOP presidential candidate among Latino voters -- 64% to 24% in one recent poll. But as Romney arrived in Arizona today, the chairman of the state Republican Party said he believes Romney can -- and must -- reach out to Latinos.
"He's very strong on that," Thomas Morrissey insisted in an interview outside a meeting of the Republican National Committee in Scottsdale, "and I think you'll be seeing more and more of that as we go along."
Arizona, of course, is ground zero for the national debate on immigration policy, and Morrissey acknowledged that Republican views on the issue are not popular among Latinos. He said, however, that he believes its significance as a political issue has been overblown.
Like most Americans, he said, Latinos are primarily concerned with the economy and jobs, and will respond to Republican appeals on those issues.
"Immigration is actually very low on the list of priorities" for Latino voters, he said.
A recent survey of Latino voters by the Pew Hispanic Center lends some credence to Morrissey's argument. Asked which issues are "extremely important" in the 2012 election, roughly half named jobs and education.
Immigration came in last among six issues, with just one-third saying it was extremely important.
Romney’s Arizona swing includes an appearance before the Hispanic Business Roundtable in Phoenix.
Original source: Arizona GOP chair says Romney must reach out to Latinos