GOP Latino Strategy: Rubio, Immigration, Univisión

In case you were wondering, Florida Senator Marco Rubio says he’s not interested in running for vice-president. Rubio was at the Washington Ideas Forum this weekend in Washington, D.C., when a correspondent from the National Journal asked him about his interest in the veep slot.  The Republican Senator said he was definitely not interested, maybe, for sure.

The Huffington Post reported:

“I’m not focused on that; I’m focused on my job right now. And the answer’s probably going to be no — The answer’s going to be no,” he said, adding that he had to correct himself because he didn’t want to be seen as leaving the door open. Rubio has offered similar answers in the past, but no one seems to believe him and he is still consistently asked about his prospects.

The speculation (and I use the term more as a noun than a verb) has been that the GOP needs Rubio to ride shotgun on its presidential ticket for 2012 in order to attract more Latino voters. As if that were enough. The problem for the Republican party is that if they manage to convince Rubio to accept a running mate position, they’d have to let him talk, wouldn’t they?

Rubio has been adamant about what he believes his party must do to attract Latinos. One of those things concerns immigration.

Rubio also offered his party a cautionary note on immigration, saying it had to be careful not to focus primarily on targeting undocumented immigrants.

“We cannot be the anti-illegal immigration party. We have to be the pro-legal immigration party,” he said. “We have to be a party that advocates for a legal immigration system that’s good for Americans, good for America and honors our tradition both as a nation of immigrants and as a nation of law.”

That runs askew to the feelings of the Republican Tea Party base, that argues for strict enforcement of even stricter immigration laws – all of this couched in the idea that immigration is the key to winning or losing the Latino vote. The moderate Republicans, on the other hand, may have stepped into an issue involving Rubio, but not of their making. According to the Wall Street Journal,

…an escalating dispute between (Rubio) and Univision, the largest Spanish-language television network in the country, could complicate the GOP’s efforts to reach out to Latinos.

News Taco reported on this last week: the Miami Herald alleges that Univision’s top office people offered to “go easy” on a planned story about the Senator’s brother-in-law’s criminal background in exchange for Rubio’s appearance on the network’s Sunday issues program, Al Punto.  The GOP has backed Rubio in this controversy, and by default gone against Univisión.

There’s an interesting collateral implication here as well: the fact that going against Univision can somehow “complicate the GOP’s efforts to reach out to Latinos.” It’s no secret that Univisión is the dominant Spanish language television and radio network in the U.S. But does that mean that it speaks for all Latinos?

The problem, as with everything having to do with Latinos in the U.S., is in the definition. First, there’s the idea that all persons of Latin American heritage living in the United States can be pressed into one tidy box labeled “Latino.” Then there’s the myth that all you need are three things to get the people in that box to vote for your candidate/party:

Get a Latino on the ticket, go easy on immigration and play nice with Univisión.

The sound you hear are the crickets chirping where there should be Latino enthusiasm for the GOP.

[Photo by DavidAll06]

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