Rep. Ros-Lehtinen: Pivotal Hispanic Vote Deserting Obama

Wednesday, 30 Nov 2011 05:56 PM

By Martin Gould and Ashley Martella

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Hispanic voters will desert Barack Obama at the next election because he has failed to provide the hope and change he promised and Republicans are their natural party anyway, leading Cuban-American Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tells Newsmax.

Too many people think that immigration is the only thing Latinos are concerned about but that is simply not true, the House Foreign Affairs chairwoman said in the exclusive interview.

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“The Republican party is the party of small government, less government intrusion, small businesses, more economic freedom, and that goes to the heart of what the Hispanic community is all about,” the Florida legislator said.

“The growth in Hispanic small businesses in the United States is phenomenal and it’s because we’re seeing the opportunities exist,” she added. “The party needs to tailor its message, we don’t have to change our principles, but just be unafraid to appeal to the Hispanic voter.

“We tend to think that the Hispanic voter is all about immigration and if you’re not for amnesty, if you’re not for a comprehensive immigration reform, you won’t get the Hispanic vote. That is not true at all.

“Hispanics are pro-business, they’re very much pro-family and pro-community and they’re for safe schools and against drugs – all great American values. We should appeal to those voters all the time.

“Hispanics are a natural for the Republican party.”

Ros-Lehtinen, who was born in Havana and fled Fidel Castro’s regime as an 8-year-old with her parents, says that the Hispanic vote will be nothing like the more than 2-1 margin that sided with Obama over John McCain in 2008.

“The overwhelming Hispanic support is not going to be with Obama this time because they’re not going to be as enthusiastic to go out to vote,” she said.

“Obama had a lot of hope and a lot of change that he promised and the Hispanic community is saying by and large, ‘Que Pasa?’ what happened there? There’s no hope, there’s no change.

“It’s actually been a terrible economy, thanks to his leadership. He owns this economy, it’s his economy and Hispanics have suffered greatly because of it.”

Ros-Lehtinen said she supports continued economic sanctions against her native country even though it flies in the face of trading ties with other communist nations such as China.

She said when the embargo was introduced more than half a century ago, it was not to bring about an end to the Castro regime, but as a policy statement, similar to those against South Africa’s apartheid regime or Haiti’s military juntas.

And things haven’t changed. “The Cuba model is not like Egypt or Libya, it’s more related to North Korea where you have such an all-consuming police, authoritarian state,” she said,

“What we have seen is Fidel pass on power to Raoul and it’s essentially the same regime. Just a few days ago they passed so-called reform – this is so horrible – that allows people in Cuba to move to Havana without having to get so many government signatures. This is a horrid regime.

“I believe the embargo is the right policy. It’s not to bring the regime down but it’s to say this is a moral stand, this is a principled stand and we will have the embargo in place, we will not engage commercially with Cuba until there are free elections, free multiple parties allowed to exist, freedom of the press and freedom for political prisoners.

“That’s the right stance to have and it gives us leverage when Cuba does become free, we can have a free neighbor and a democratic ally so close to our shores.”

On other foreign policies, Ros-Lehtinen blasted Obama for failing to take a tough stance on Iran as it moves closer to getting nuclear weapons. “The Obama administration has had a weak policy on Iran since the first day,” she said.

That has made it difficult for the Republican-controlled House to pass meaningful sanctions against Tehran.

“We’ve had to water them down time and time again and the Iranians know that. The regime, the mullahs, the Supreme Leader, Ahmedinejad, all of them know that we’re very weak and our policy, in essence, is let Israel take care of it. That is a non-policy.”

She said it is time to tell overseas companies to make a choice. If they deal with Iran they will lose all business in the United States. “it’s Iran or the U.S. – you choose,” she said. “I think they’ll choose wisely.”

She said the United States has to be careful about the future of the Middle East.

“Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he feared that the Arab Spring may lead to an Iranian Winter and I think that that’s very true, not that I’m saying that Mubarak was a great guy; of course he wasn’t, he was a dictator and he abused human rights.

“We all want to get rid of dictators and thugs but to replace that with Shariah law or any kind of extreme philosophy is just two steps forward and three steps back.”

Ros-Lehtinen said that in the 10 months since the GOP regained control of the House it has passed 22 bills that would promote growth, but they have all been held up in the Senate.

“Can we produce legislation that is pro-economic growth without any taxes? Yes we can. We’ve done it 22 times – eliminated regulation, reformed the tax code, we have got the job done.

“It is not our fault that Harry Reid is sitting there doing I don’t know what, but he’s certainly not passing any meaningful legislation.”

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