MIAMI (CBS4) – The youngest of the Mitt Romney clan, son Craig Romney, dropped in at the landmark La Caretta restaurant in West Miami-Dade Tuesday morning looking for hispanic votes among the cafecito crowd.
Craig Romney, fluent in Spanish after spending time as a Mormon missionary in Chile, was looking to boost his father’s fortunes among Hispanic voters. Romney is polling in the 20’s, far behind President Barack Obama, in a demographic that could play a key role in the November general election.
Romney said his father should do better among Latinos after they have an opportunity to see him in the upcoming presidential debates.
“I think the voter hasn’t really had a chance to see what kind of man my dad is yet,” he said.
Down at the pass-through window, though, Mexican-American Robert Soto munched a pastelito, and said he’s seen enough of Romney to know the GOP candidate isn’t “looking out for the regular people.”
Another Hispanic voter, Benny Jimenez, a rare Democrat among Cuban-Americans, also characterized Romney as “out of touch.”
“Romney is a multi-millionaire. He’s just looking out for himself,” Jimenez said.
The Romney campaign is running Spanish-language television spots which attack President Obama’s handling of the economy and cite a high unemployment rate among Hispanics.
At the Tuesday event, high profile supporters in South Florida continued the assault.
“What we have now is an administration that just doesn’t understand how the economy works,” said GOP Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart.
Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen echoed the sentiment.
“Government does not create jobs and that’s been the Obama philosophy,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
Craig Romney continued the theme:
“We’ve suffered the last few years under a struggling economy, and my dad knows how to get this country back to work,” he said. “He knows how to get the economy back on track.”
Some political analysts say a one-issue approach won’t work nationally, or in critical Florida where a conservative Cuban-American block has been diluted by a rainbow of other Hispanic voters.
“If he’s going to get Florida, he’s going to have to have broader Hispanic support,” said Dario Moreno, a professor of political science at Florida International University.
Former state representative Juan Zapata, a Republican and native Colombian, talked tough love to the Romney camp, saying the candidate must portray a “kinder, gentler, more inclusive” view of immigrants.
“He really has to formulate an immigration policy that doesn’t sound mean-spirited like we’ve heard before from other Republicans,” Zapata said.
FIU’s Moreno said Romney has complicated his situation with the selection of Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. Romney has settled on a “Midwest strategy,” that will alienate some Hispanic voters, Moreno said.