Romney, Gingrich, Santorum to speak at Hispanic Leadership Conference
Three GOP presidential candidates will speak at the “Inspiring Action” conference just days ahead of Florida’s Republican presidential primary, the Hispanic Leadership Network announced Tuesday.
The Leadership Network said in a release today “that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and former Senator Rick Santorum will address” the Hispanic conference in Miami.
“Our conference is a chance for center-right Hispanics to take an active role in the policy debate currently taking place around the country,” Hispanic Leadership Network Executive Director Jennifer Korn said, according to the release. The release also states that Friday’s program “features discussions on job creation, immigration, and the power of the Hispanic vote” and “three training sessions focusing on grassroots advocacy, media, and policy issues.”
Florida, where Cubans traditionally vote Republican, is the first state in which Latino voters will play an important role in the GOP presidential primaries.
The GOP candidates have varying positions on immigration, an issue that polls show is of importance to Latino voters across the U.S., including Cubans who live in Florida and are favored by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1996.
Romney, who was endorsed by the powerful South Florida Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and the Diaz-Balart brothers, has said he loves immigrants but will not endorse any policies he considers amnesty, such as the DREAM Act. Romney also recently received the endorsement of Kris Kobach, current secetary of state in Kansas and the author of highly controversial state-level immigration enforcement bills like Arizona’s S.B 1070.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who will host the conference, told Bloomberg over the weekend that “the debate over immigration laws in the Republican Party could be a problem for its nominee.”
“In swing-states, Hispanic voters are increasingly the swing voters, and if you, by your tone more than anything else, send a signal that ‘you’re not wanted on my team’ — and I’m not saying any candidate has done that — you could alienate voters that could be part of the winning formula,” Bush said.
Gingrich said in November 2011 that he supports immigration enforcement without citizenship but also “finding a way to create legality so that” immigrants “are not separated from their families.”
According to Fox News, Santorum’s “immigration policy falls in line with the general, hard-line stance held by most of the GOP hopefuls on the issue.”
The conference will also feature Ed Gillespie, GOP political strategist and former White House counselor to George W. Bush, who will speak about “Hispanic American Population – Knowing Your Influence.”
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, of Cuban descent, will also speak at the conference.
According to a Univision News/Latino Decisions November 2011 Latino electorate poll, 38 percent of Latino voters had not heard of Rubio; in Texas that number was up to 49 percent and in California it stood at 45 percent.