Filed Under:

Heading Into Final Fla. Swing., GOP Candidates Keep Courting Latino Voters

Play associated audio

Fresh from Thursday night's debate, the two leading Republican presidential candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, traveled across Florida on Friday.

Gingrich and Romney spent the morning in Miami, where they are both looking to shore up support from Florida's Hispanic community.

Gingrich started the day talking to an influential business group, the Latin Builders Association. Later, he spoke before the Hispanic Leadership Network — a group devoted to building Republican support among Latinos.

Gingrich laid out his case for an activist policy in Latin America, taking a harder stance against Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and doing more to help Mexico battle drug cartels.

When he came to the subject of Puerto Rico, Gingrich said he supported the island's right to determine its status. An audience member stood up and asked him to take a stand.

"Do you believe Puerto Rico should be a state," she asked, "or not?"

Gingrich bristled a little bit. "Look, I just said what I believe, and if you don't like it, I'm sorry we disagree. I believe the people of Puerto Rico should make the decision." The audience responded with applause and cheers.

Florida's large Puerto Rican community — which includes many voters who are registered Democrats or independents — is likely to be a larger factor in the general election than in the primary. In 2008, Florida Puerto Ricans went for Barack Obama and helped him carry the state.

Mitt Romney took the stage before the Hispanic Leadership Network about an hour after Gingrich. He was still clearly feeling good from his performance Thursday night in Jacksonville, saying, "It was a delightful debate, I loved it."

Romney handled a question about Puerto Rico a little more deftly — speaking warmly about the prospect of statehood. A few hours later, Puerto Rico's governor, Luis Fortuno, a statehood proponent, endorsed Romney.

That was the second endorsement of the day Gingrich lost out on. After Gingrich, Rick Santorum also spoke to Miami's Latin Builders Association, and he's the candidate that group decided to endorse.

Ron Paul is not actively campaigning here, and Santorum, well back in the polls, is taking a break. He says he's heading home to do his taxes, but expects to be back in Florida over the weekend and plans to campaign through Tuesday's primary.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

For Penn & Teller's Magical Partnership, The Trick Is Telling The Truth

The duo Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller are back on Broadway. They both talk — yes, even Teller — with NPR's Scott Simon about magic, danger and the remarkable endurance of their 40-year partnership.
NPR

At The Purple Pie Place, Where The Crusts Are Just Sweet Enough

Bobkat's Purple Pie Place is a fixture in Custer, S.D. From chicken pot pie to strawberry rhubarb, Trevor Yehlie and his family have been baking and serving pies at the local favorite since 2009.
NPR

Empire Strikes PAC And Other Punny SuperPAC Names

My Cat Xavier For a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow superPAC backed Hank the Cat in the 2012 Virginia Senate election. Xavier also cared about naps, treats, and prison reform.
NPR

Despite Host Controversy, Amazon Takes A Chance On 'Top Gear'

The trio that made Top Gear the world's biggest car show will return to the small screen in a new show for Amazon Prime. The BBC canned one of its hosts last year after a fight with a producer.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.