The biggest organization of Hispanic Republicans in the United States endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for the GOP presidential nomination.
“We believe Newt Gingrich knows the importance of the Latino community,” Somos Republicanos said in a statement describing the Hispanic community as “a key driver of our nation’s future.”
“While the other candidates seem oblivious to this fact, Newt Gingrich has been working hard for many years to include American Hispanics in the overall conversation for a better America,” the group said.
Gingrich heated up the Republican debate on immigration with a proposal to legalize millions of people who have lived in the country for decades.
Through campaign events in Florida and his participation in events like the Jan. 26-27 Hispanic Leadership Network conference in Miami, the politician is trying to score points with the Hispanic electorate against the more intransigent attitudes of his rivales, particularly front-runner Mitt Romney.
For his part, the former Massachusetts governor is betting on the opposite angle by teaming up with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped draft the anti-immigrant laws of Arizona and Alabama.
Kobach accompanied Romney on Monday at a campaign event in South Carolina, scene of the next primary.
Romney’s approach, an attempt to look iron-fisted against illegal immigration, also includes a direct rejection of the DREAM Act, a bill that would permit the legalization of undocumented students who came to the United States before the age of 16 and who fulfill certain requirements.
The former governor and millionaire hedge-fund chief “takes an non-humanitarian approach to the DREAM Act and legal immigration reform,” Somos Republicanos said, vowing to “veto Romney at the polls.”
The organization also lamented the withdrawal of Jon Huntsman from the primaries, since he backed the DREAM Act, and his subsequent endorsement of Romney on Monday.
In a conference call Monday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) used the word “appalling” to describe Romney’s alliance with Kobach, “the dark lord of the anti-immigration movement.”
“But boy does it make it crystal clear to Latino voters what is at stake in this election. Mitt Romney can surround himself with all the Cuban Republicans in the world - and he will be doing exactly that in Florida - but the stink of the anti-immigrant positions he is taking will not rub off,” the lawmaker said.