In a conversation with The Daily Caller, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the gap between Hispanic support for President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney will tighten as the election nears, and it will have nothing to do with Romney’s choice of running mate.
Referring to recent polls showing Obama holding a substantial lead over Romney among Hispanic voters, Gonzales told TheDC he believes “we’re going to see the numbers tighten up considerably closer to election day, especially if economic indicators don’t improve remarkably.”
Gonzalez also addressed allegations that Republicans are trying to limit Hispanics’ impact on the election’s outcome because of the seemingly insurmountable gap between Obama and Romney. “The answer is not to suppress the Hispanic vote,” he said. “The answer is to improve the Republican brand.”
If Republicans continue to perform poorly in the quickly increasing Hispanic electorate, “there is no long-term future for the Republican Party,” the former attorney general added.
Gonzales, though, said he thinks there is potential for the Hispanic community to embrace the Republican brand.
“We believe in less government, more opportunity,” he explained. “We believe that society rewards us based upon our achievements, not based upon our skin color. So, there are many things, I think, that the party stands for that should resonate within this community.”
Responding to Obama campaign Communications Director David Axelrod’s much-publicized comments calling the potential running-mate selection of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio “an insult to Hispanics,” Gonzales insisted that Latinos are “going to vote for Romney based on what they believe in him. They’re going to vote for him based upon what they think about his policies, not who his running mate is.”
Gonzales told TheDC he doesn’t believe the only way to reach the Hispanic electorate is through aggressive positions on immigration policy. The economy and education funding, he said, will be the most important campaign issues to Hispanics, as they are to Americans in general.
“Everyone wants a job, everyone wants enough money to pay for their mortgage, and they’re going to want to see their kids get a quality education,” Gonzales said.
Still, he is still not sure whether or not Romney has what it takes to secure the trust of the Hispanic community.
“They have to believe that he believes in us. George Bush had that. Maybe you either have it or you don’t,” Gonzales said. George W. Bush secured 44 percent of the Latino vote in the 2004 presidential election, according to some reports.
The former attorney general is Of Counsel at Waller law firm and a law professor at Belmont University, both in Nashville.