Romney Snubbing Hispanics?

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While there have been a long slog of GOP debates, and people may be asking why any more encounters matter at this point -- Hispanic Americans want their turn at bat and are working hard to pull off 'the Hispanic issues conversation' next Wednesday. 

Only problem is that Mitt Romney won't return calls and say yes or no to attending.

Scheduled for Wednesday, 25 January at the 140,000 student strong Miami-Dade College, the "meet up with candidates" organized by Univision, the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the college has secured commitments from both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to attend.  Ron Paul's staff is still trying to work it out and has had discussions with the debate organizers.

But despite a full court press by numerous Romney advisers and donors and even senior members of the LDS Church, Romney and his campaign have been radio silent over whether he will appear or not.  The campaign has not yet responded to this writer's inquiries about its position on the event.

At this point, leading members of the Hispanic community say that they have had enough and are going public with their grumbling about the former Massachusetts governor.  One senior Hispanic policy activist has said that Romney is not signalling that America's Hispanic community is a priority for him.

The President and Chairman of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Nina Vaca and Javier Palomarez respectively, have issued these statements "thanking" Santorum and Gingrich for their commitments -- but also implying that Romney is dissing them.

Nina Vaca, Chairman of the Board of Directors

"As the premier voice for America's Hispanic business community, the USHCC has organized this event to provide a forum for the Republican Presidential candidates to directly address the fastest-growing and most dynamic group of job creators - the nation's Hispanic entrepreneurs."

"64% of jobs in our country are created by small business, and Hispanic entrepreneurs are leading the growth in that segment. Our nation's economic recovery will require continued growth in the Hispanic business community, and Speaker Gingrich and Senator Santorum's willingness to speak at this event underscores their understanding of our contributions.

Javier Palomarez, President & CEO

"We have worked closely with two world class institutions -- Univision and Miami-Dade College-- to create an event that will allow the Republican candidates to begin a national conversation with America's Hispanic community.

We are thankful for the participation of Speaker Gingrich and Senator Santorum, these gentlemen have shown they recognize the important role that Hispanic job creators play in the American economy. Our three organizations have a unique ability to reach the very voters who will decide the next Republican nominee, and I hope that Governor Romney and Rep. Paul will decide to join us.

In the fall of 2011, a strange dust-up took place between Florida's leading Hispanic politico, US Senator Marco Rubio, who accused Univision of trying to shake him down by foregoing commentary about the criminal record of one of his family members if he'd do an interview for the network.  Univision denies the allegations -- and The New Yorker's Ken Auletta wrote an extensive, thoughtful profile of this episode here.  The consequence last October was that Rubio then got most of the potential GOP presidential contenders (who might want him on their ticket in the VP slot) to boycott this Univision debate.

So, Romney's reluctance may still be tied to the Rubio-Univision sumo match, or may be that he's just pretty busy and hasn't gotten to his in-box.

But Hispanic leaders involved in trying to get Romney to talk with them and engage Hispanic issues are now issuing alerts that they are not at all happy being ignored.


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Steve Clemons is Washington editor at large for The Atlantic and editor of Atlantic Live. He writes frequently about politics and foreign affairs. More

Clemons is a senior fellow and the founder of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, a centrist think tank in Washington, D.C., where he previously served as executive vice president. He writes and speaks frequently about the D.C. political scene, foreign policy, and national security issues, as well as domestic and global economic-policy challenges.

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