GOP demands apology for Obama campaign manager's 'chimichanga' tweet

Republicans are demanding an apology Wednesday from President Obama's campaign manager after a tweet that they argue was insulting toward Latino Americans.

Jim Messina, who is helming the president's reelection effort, tweeted a line from a column written by The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, in which he argues that Republicans will struggle to attract the Latino vote after coming out against the DREAM immigration reform act. 

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"Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: 'The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos,' " Messina tweeted.

But the comments drew rebuke from Republicans, who argued the reference to the deep-fried burrito was culturally insensitive.

"The fact that the campaign manager of President Obama's reelection campaign thinks it's appropriate to disseminate insulting jokes about the Hispanic community is a perfect example of the kind of empty rhetoric that characterizes this White House's so-called outreach to Latinos. We demand that Mr. Messina immediately apologize and we ask that President Obama disavow his campaign manager's ridiculous statement," said Jennifer Sevilla Korn, executive director of the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network, in a statement.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) also hammered Messina over the comments. The RNC's Latino Twitter account re-tweeted one user's comment telling Messina, "[N]ot to try and insult your intelligence or anything, but not all Hispanics are about chimichangas."


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Alexandra Franceschi, who handles Latino press for the RNC, also blasted Obama's campaign manager.

"[Messina] clearly doesn’t understand the diversity of Hispanic community. Hispanics deserve an apology for his inflammatory comment," Franceschi tweeted.

RNC political director Rick Wiley — a frequent Messina antagonist on Twitter — called the tweet "ridiculous" in a series of tweets throughout the morning.

"You might need to call your own office on the ridiculous tweet re: chimichanga's [sic]," Wiley tweeted. "Very insensitive bro."

Messina defended the post - but did not apologize - in a subsequent post on Twitter.

"Tweeting someone else’s words caused a stir, but the GOP is on the wrong side of every Hispanic voter priority," Messina wrote, linking to a campaign memo highlighting weak support for GOP candidates among Hispanic voters.

Later Wiley noted outrage over the comment, telling Messina to "put your helmet on bro, only going to get worse."

Eric Fehrnstrom, a consultant for Mitt Romney, also got in on the criticism.

"[Messina] first distinguished himself by swearing on a campaign video. Now he tweets offensive comments about Hispanics," Fehrnstrom tweeted

That drew a rebuke from Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt, who replied to Fehnstrom's post with a link to an article about when the Massachusetts political consultant was discovered as the anonymous voice behind a Twitter feed mocking then-Democratic Senate candidate Alan Khazei.

"Wait, you're not hiding behind a fake name to launch attacks on your opponents anymore?" LaBolt said

Republicans are hoping the issue could provide inroads with Latino voters, the largest growing group of American voters, who have largely supported President Obama. A November poll by Univision News found that two-thirds of Latino voters approved of the job the president was doing, a far higher clip than with the electorate as a whole.

The same poll found 42 percent of Latinos believed the Republican Party doesn't care about reaching out to Hispanics — with 30 percent describing Republicans as hostile to their community.

Updated at 2:56 p.m.