By Meghashyam Mali - 06/20/12 11:21 AM EDT
The Republican National Committee (RNC) on Wednesday unveiled a new ad, which targets Hispanic voters on the economy, and comes as the party struggles to fine-tune its message to the fast-growing demographic days after the White House announced a shift on immigration policy.
The ad, which argues that Obama's economic policies have hit the minority group particularly hard, does not mention immigration, despite polls suggesting that Hispanic support for Obama could be bolstered by his more lenient deportation rules.
"After four years of President Obama, our economy isn't better," reads an onscreen graphic in the English-language video.
The ad then highlights government statistics claiming that Hispanic unemployment has skyrocketed to 11 percent with "2.3 million more Hispanics in poverty."
The video ends with a graphic reading, "Hispanics are suffering in the Obama economy."
"President Obama has let Hispanics down when it comes to creating good paying jobs and getting the economy moving again," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement announcing the new video. "He has not lived up to his promises to Hispanic voters and the recent jobs report showed that Hispanics are doing worse, not better, in the Obama economy."
The video is the latest GOP effort to woo Latino voters in the lead-up to the November election by focusing on the economy, which voters overall rank as the most important issue, but the strategy is running into headwinds from Obama's new directive on immigration policy.
The president announced last Friday that the administration would stop deporting some illegal immigrants who entered the country at a young age with their parents, allowing them to work legally.
The policy shift has added to pressure on presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney to clarify his own position on immigration. Romney, who tacked to the right on the issue in the Republican primary, was in the process of reaching out to Hispanic voters and now finds himself on the defensive after Obama’s new ruling.
Opposing it could cost Romney with Hispanic voters, but many in the GOP base are also strongly critical of the new deportation rules, which they reject as a form of “amnesty.”
Romney has thus far declined to say if he agrees with the decision and on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Republican lawmakers would wait for Romney to take the lead on the GOP response to the issue.
“Most of my members are interested in what Gov. Romney has to say about this issue, and we’re going to withhold judgment, most of us, until that time,” McConnell said to reporters.
Romney is scheduled to meet with Hispanic leaders on Thursday, where the former Massachusetts governor is expected to reveal his position on the new policy.
Polls show the decision is popular with Hispanic voters and independents and could boost support for Obama in several swing states where Hispanics hold sway.
A Bloomberg National Poll released on Tuesday showed that 64 percent of likely voters and 66 percent of independents approved of the policy change. Thirty percent of likely voters disagreed with Obama's decision.
A poll released Monday by Latino Decisions-America’s Voice showed Hispanics in five battleground states also more enthusiastic about backing Obama after the announcement.