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Martinez to Romney: Poor people are people too

Photo by Gerardo Mora / Getty Images

Prominent figures in the Republican Party are already distancing themselves from their presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, more than a month before his likely loss to President Obama. Even popular Latino leaders in the party, the same leaders invited to speak in front of the Republican National Convention in Tampa just a month earlier, seem to be pulling away from Mitt, and that could cost him serious Latino votes.

As Director of Research Gabriel Sanchez at Latino Decisions writes:

“While it is understandable that GOP candidates facing tough elections would choose to separate themselves from Romney’s controversial statements, not all his co-partisan critics face this electoral pressure. Susana Martinez, the first term Governor of New Mexico is not up for re-election for another two years, and as illustrated below, is very popular with her constituents. Yet the Latina Governor still criticized Romney’s dismissal of almost half the electorate and government programs to help the poor in a recent interview with the Albuquerque Journal: ‘We have a lot of people that are at the poverty level in New Mexico, but they count just as much as anybody else. There is a net that does allow them to be caught and taken care of, whether it be through medical services, whether it be food services, whether it be with funding for apartments, for housing. I think, certainly the fact that New Mexico provides that safety net is a good thing.’ “

For Mitt, Governor Martinez’s words cut deep and couldn’t have come at a worse time for his campaign.

In the weeks since the convention, popularity for the president among Latinos has risen steadily while the Romney campaign has experienced an equal yet opposite decline in its Latino support. As one of the most notable speakers at the national convention, Martinez was being touted as proof of Mitt’s support among informed Latino voters. Now her words seem to directly contradict comments made by the presidential nominee in Boca Raton back in May, when he said that it was wrong of the poorer 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay taxes (because they can’t afford them) to be “dependent on the government” for services like “health care,” “food” and “housing.”

Good for Governor Martinez for standing up and defending such safety net programs — although, it may be that the governor supports such programs because her state has the highest poverty rate in the nation, and if you’re not going to do spit to bring down the poverty level in your state, you damn well better make sure that the poor are at least provided for.

It’s hard to tell how this will effect the Latino electorate. The constantly cosseted undecided voter may not be simply on the fence about the upcoming election; it may be that they’re not even paying attention.

Still, while we know Mitt believes “corporations are people too,” it doesn’t bode well for him when a popular, Republican, Latina governor has to remind him that poor people are people too, too.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007,, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. he never had the latino vote, obummer took care of that with his amnesty program, thus nearly giving him the latin vote…….

  2. So Gov. Said this. So what? It’s just a snippet of what she said in a larger interview. Where is the rest of what she said and when did she say it?

  3. You have to take everything in stride with the Obama loving main stream media. The media in this nation is so far left up Obama’s butt that it’s not funny. Even Romney’s smeelingly shocking 47% comment was taken out of context and edited to appear more ominous than it actually was!

  4. ahh but mr. Mario, the speech he made was not edited. The bad thing about making a statement as a fact is that there is a little thing call youtube and u can actually watch the entire interview. Those pesky facts always get in the way.

  5. Mother Jones, the left-wing magazine that released a controversial video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s remarks to a fundraiser in May, now admits that it has no full tape of what Romney said, and that its video is missing “one to two minutes” at the most important moment.

  6. Sounds like Nixon’s eighteen minutes.

  7. lol, mario u geting into the pretzel argument. Ur stating we should dismissed 30 plus minutes becuase 1-2 minutes are missing. U consider 30 plus minute as snippets becuase 1 minute is missing?? whats more amazing is Romney agree the next day that he said what he said but it was not elaquent spoken. I guess Romney own words cant even convince Mario.

  8. And I don’t see anything wrong in what he said – he sadly spoke the truth.

  9. Hey, but don’t worry, your side is lucky because as we all know, a lie repeated a million times eventually becomes the truth to many.

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