How Mitt Romney Could Lure Latinos


"There'll be an attempt to depress the vote. Yes, no question about it," he added. "That's something that we've seen again and again and again and we're going to work hard to get that vote and to really make it clear why this election is so important."

In addition to worrying about Latino turnout, the economy, and immigration, the Obama campaign has to prepare for the possibility that Romney could pick a running mate who could bolster his standing among Latinos, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. The January poll from Latino Decisions found that 60 percent of Latino Republicans in Florida would be much more likely to vote Republican in November if Rubio is added to the GOP ticket. With Florida such a key battleground state, a big boost from Rubio could make Romney especially formidable there, especially considering the former Massachusetts governor's resounding win in the Sunshine State's January primary. While success in a given state during the primary is no guarantee of similar success there in the general election, Romney has emerged victorious in primaries where there is a strong Latino presence, such as Arizona and Nevada in addition to Florida.

This opportunity to capitalize on the Latino vote is not lost on the Romney campaign.

"Gov. Romney is in a stronger position with Hispanics than the Obama campaign would like people to believe," Martinez said. "He had strong performances in states with large Hispanic populations like Florida, Arizona and Nevada."

"The Hispanic vote is the ultimate swing vote," he added. "You can't take it for granted or pander to it, which is precisely what the Obama approach seems to be."

Making a dent in Obama's support among Latinos won't be easy for Romney – and he's hardly helped his cause with some of his comments during the primary. Four years ago, Obama won Latino-heavy battleground states like Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico – and his campaign is now making a push in places like Arizona, a state that has traditionally voted Republican. But there is an opening for Romney this year, albeit a slim one. Whether or not he manages to make the most of it could very well determine whether or not he wins the White House.

Matthew Jaffe is covering the 2012 campaign for ABC News and Univision.

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