GOP deep-fries Democrats over chimichanga quip

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Republicans are learning from the Democrats’ P.R. manual, and today loudly slammed Democrats for portraying Hispanics as chimichanga-eating, Democratic-voting robots.

By broadcasting the claim that Republicans are only offering chimichangas to increasingly important Hispanic voters, Democrats “are basically saying that all Hispanics are only of one party, that we all think the same way, eat the same things, and do the same things,” said Jennifer Korn, executive Director of the GOP-affiliated Hispanic Leadership Network.

“We’re not monolithic,” said Korn, a Mexican-American from Los Angeles who worked for George W. Bush. There are real differences among Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Salvadoran-Americans, she said, adding “the chimichanga isn’t a Mexican food — it was invented in the United States.”

Chimichangas are deep-fried burritos.

The furor began Wednesday morning when GOP advocates and allies saw a 9:04 a.m. tweet from Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s campaign manager. “Line of the day from WAPO’s Dana Milbank: ‘The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos,’” Messina wrote.

Messina’s line came from Milbank’s Washington Post morning column, which decried the GOP’s mainstream position on immigration and claimed Republicans’ so-called “anti-immigrant rhetoric” is alienating Hispanic voters. Milbank also echoed Democrats’ claim that the GOP’s opposition to the judicial nomination of a Cuban-American nominee, Alberto Jordan, is anathema to Hispanic Americans.

RNC political director Rick Wiley shot back with a tweet at 10:28. “How insulting and condescending, @Messina2012 must apologize immediately and Obama must disavow.” (RELATED: More stories on immigration)

Messina responded at 12:20 p.m. with a link to a campaign memo arguing that Republicans have damaged their standing with Hispanics by supporting the public’s demand for immigration enforcement. “Tweeting someone else’s words caused a stir, but the GOP is on the wrong side of every Hispanic voter priority,” said Messina.

In turn, Wiley jabbed back at at 12.36. “Hey @messina2012, your attempt at clean up in aisle chimichanga isn’t going well.”

Luke Frans, a spokesman for Resurgent Republic, a GOP-linked polling group, jumped in at 1:43 arguing that Obama’s support among Hispanic voters has sunk by 11 points since 2008 in Florida.

“With 46 percent support among Florida Hispanics on the presidential generic ballot, does [Messina] believe President Obama’s standing with these critically important voters is on par or better than his 2008 performance? … [is he] pleased that a plurality of Hispanic voters [46 percent]  in Florida say it’s time for someone else to be president?”

The Democrats’ claims are insulting, Korn told The Daily Caller. “We have many problems facing our country and Obama’s campaign guy thinks it is OK to insult Hispanics,” she said.

The unemployment rate among Hispanics is at least 11 percent, and Obama has failed to push for easier immigration laws, she said.

Democrats use the topic of immigration as a “scare tactic” to drive a wedge between Hispanics and the GOP, even though Hispanics say their highest-priority issues are jobs, the economy and schooling, she said.

The right’s shared outrage mimicked Democrat’s P.R. tactics. Democrats, for example, have have orchestrated sudden and loud reactions to innocuous statements by GOP legislators and advocates.

For example, Democrats have loudly complained about Gov. Mitt Romney’s statement that he likes his ability to fire people whom he hires, or Gov. Sarah Palin’s use of target-like symbols on a map shortly before the shooting of Rep. Gabby Gffords.

The push-back was also led and magnified by centrist and conservative bloggers.

“Chimichangas is the new macaca,” wrote Michelle Malkin, referring to the Democrats’ use of a media-magnified controversy over the term ‘macaca’ to help unseat Virginia Senator George Allen in 2008. Many media outlets portrayed Allen’s use of the word as a racial insult.

Milbank stereotyped Hispanics by assuming that chimichangas as Hispanic, said the author of the Prudence Paine website. “Someone who views Latinos through elitist eyes, who probably thinks Taco Bell and Sonic’s jalapeno poppers are the height of authentic Mexican cuisine, would write a line like that—and think it’s a funny little quip,” the author said.

Today’s Republican push-back seeks to bolster the GOP’s minority support among Hispanics, most of whom tend to favor big government and economic redistribution. Obama’s team is trying to maximize their Hispanic support in November without alienating swing-voting, non-Hispanic working class voters in battleground northeastern states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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