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Rep. Becerra: Hispanics won’t buy Romney’s economic policies

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mitt Romney’s economic policies won’t be attractive to the Hispanic community, even as it faces double-digit unemployment, a key House Democrat said Monday.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), the highest-ranking Hispanic Democrat in the House, told The Hill that Latino voters would reject an economic prescription he dubbed “Bush on steroids.”

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But with Romney’s campaign shooting for 38 percent of the Hispanic vote in November, Becerra said the GOP presidential nominee would also be hurt by not distancing himself more from immigration hardliners in his party.

“Mitt Romney probably has done more to hurt Republicans with the Latino community than has even the real anti-immigrant Republicans,” Becerra said after participating in a policy event hosted by The Hill.

“Because Mitt Romney has become the face of the Republican Party, and he is now mouthing what these anti-immigrant Republicans have said.”

With the Hispanic unemployment rate at 10.3 percent — a full 2 percentage points higher than the jobless rate at large — Becerra suggested that his Los Angeles district, which is roughly two-thirds Hispanic, would instead respond to President Obama’s calls to build the economy from the middle up.

At The Hill’s policy event, Becerra added that he thinks voters blame Republicans for causing the gridlock in Washington.

“I believe it’s beginning to come true to a lot of folks that it’s been very difficult maneuvering Congress — that every time he’s tried, he’s been whacked down,” said Becerra, the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, referring to Obama. “I think the president — if he gets out there and shows he has a fighting spirit — I think he’ll be in pretty good shape.”

For their part, Republicans have been selling themselves — to both Hispanic voters and the broader electorate — as having a better handle on how to create jobs, and have pushed the theme that Americans are not better off than they were four years ago.

The GOP showcased several of its top Hispanic stars — like Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico — at their convention last week, with Rubio suggesting that Republican policies gave immigrant families a better opportunity for success.

But at the same time, the Republicans’ share of the Latino vote dropped to 31 percent in the 2008 presidential race, and the Republican platform this year stridently opposed what the GOP called “amnesty.” Romney also took a tough stance on immigration on his way to the Republican nomination.

Becerra said Monday that, if the president is reelected and Congress stays divided, he sees little hope for more bipartisan cooperation in 2013.

Republicans have said that Obama ruined the chance for more teamwork in Washington by not reaching out to them more when Democrats controlled the White House and Congress in the first two years of his presidency.

But the California Democrat said that the Tea Party flank of the House GOP conference had already stood in the way of progress this year on areas like the farm and transportation bills.

“The minority in their House majority is running the show,” Becerra said.

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