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Romney trying to reach Latinos with Spanish-language website, ads

July 11, 2012|By Alana Semuels
  • A screenshot of the Romney campaign's new Spanish-language website.
A screenshot of the Romney campaign's new Spanish-language website. (Romney for President / Los…)

Weeks after media experts criticized the Romney campaign for its clumsy attempts to reach Latino voters, the campaign released a new Spanish-language ad featuring the candidate’s son Craig, who speaks fluent Spanish, inviting voters to get to know his father.

Craig, the youngest of Romney’s sons, talks to viewers in the ad, called “Los Invito,” or “I Invite You,” his Spanish fluent from time spent as a missionary in Chile. He emphasizes his father’s 40 years of marriage and five sons, and continues, “What he has achieved has been through hard work — and it is with the same dedication that he will fight to get our country on the right track and create jobs.”

The ad differs from Romney’s previous Spanish-language ads, "Día Uno" and "Van Bien?” which were both directly translated from English-language ads, and used much of the same graphics and imagery as the original English ads. “Los Invito” appears to be exclusively in Spanish.

The ad does not feature much imagery of Latino voters, which most experts say is necessary in cross-cultural ads, but it does invite viewers to get to know Romney further through the campaign’s new Spanish-language website, www.JuntosconRomney.com. That site houses the campaign’s Spanish-language ads, as well as statistics about Latino unemployment under President Obama, showing that the number of unemployed Latinos has grown by half a million under Obama. The campaign’s lack of a Spanish-language website was another reason media experts were describing Romney’s efforts to reach Latinos as flat.

The ads may be a sign that the Romney campaign still hopes to siphon some Latino voters from Obama, who won big in the Latino community after announcing he’d create a path for young undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents to stay in the country. A "Latino Decisions" poll last week showed Obama had a commanding lead over Romney with Latinos in battleground states, including a margin of 53% to 37% in Florida.

Of the 15 unique ads the Obama campaign was airing in the week prior to June 28, six were in Spanish, according to Kantar Media Group. One out of Romney’s eight unique ads was in Spanish, although “Los Invito” was not included in the tally.

Still, it would have been easy for Romney to give up on the Latino vote, said Clarissa Martinez de Castro, director of civic engagement and immigration at the National Council of La Raza, in an interview last week. He could have just emphasized his opposition to the Dream Act and hard-line immigration policies of the GOP primaries that have isolated him from many Latino voters. But he hasn’t done that, she said, indicating that he recognizes the importance of the Latino vote.

“On the one hand, if he had given up on Latinos completely, it could have been easier to continue with the kind of positioning he had in the primary,” she said. “But the interesting thing is that he signaled movement. The question is — was that softening a harbinger of things to come in terms of a more clearly defined position that is more in line with where the majority of the American electorate stands?”

Then again, Romney decided to skip the National Council of La Raza’s annual meeting in Las Vegas this week, perhaps a sign that he isn’t yet ready to go full bore to recruit the Latino vote.

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alana.semuels@latimes.com

Twitter: @alanasemuels

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