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Romney’s mythical Latino support

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The national mainstream media likes its narratives neat and tidy. How else to explain Mitt Romney racking up big numbers among Latinos in Florida? The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza falls into the trap of proclaiming that Romney has made a “leap” among Hispanics and has “overcome his doubters.”

Cillizza rightly points out that Romney’s rigid immigration positions won’t play as well nationwide, but he downplays the reason. “Florida Hispanic Republicans aren’t analogous to all Hispanic Republicans,” he finally concedes, “much less all Hispanics.”

Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer cuts to the chase more cleanly with this message for Romney. “Don’t read too much into your impressive victory among Hispanic voters in Tuesday’s Florida primary,” Oppenheimer says. “You will face an uphill battle to emulate it among Latino voters nationwide.”

Take the time to deconstruct the Latino “monolith” in the Sunshine State and you’ll find that Cubans, with their decades-old special immigration status, and Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens, do not have much of a stake in the immigration debate.

In Nevada and Arizona, immigration will take center stage. And even the gaffe-prone Romney is likely to come off better than Newt Gingrich, who has already alienated Latinos with comments about bilingual education and English immersion.

However, as Romney moves toward the general election, his Latino appeal becomes more illusory. Mexican-Americans, not Cubans who tend to be more conservative than other Latinos, comprise the majority of the ethnic Latino vote. Mexicans also make up substantial numbers of the illegal immigration population.

Romney’s tough stance on immigration reform won’t play well. Indeed, most voters, not just Latinos, favor some type of pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. His claim that his temporary work permit plan would lead to “self-deportation” for those who cannot meet with more stringent requirements is a curious turn of phrase that may come back to haunt him, as so many others have.

The Dream Act, which would give a pathway to citizenship to undocumented young people if they are pursuing a college degree or are serving in the military, did not prove to be much of an issue in Florida. However, the plan strongly resonates in Nevada and elsewhere as a more humane first step.  In Florida, both Romney and Gingrich gave tepid support for a citizenship pathway via military service. That doesn’t sit well with undocumented students in Nevada who are already planning protests.

Less well known is Romney’s position on bilingual ballots. He doesn’t support them, which flies in the face of current federal voting rights law. Stir in the percolating debate over making English the official language of the US, and Romney will have to find some way to avoid tying himself up in new linguistic knots as he attempts the impossible feat of appeasing immigration hardliners while selling himself to the Latino voters he needs to beat President Obama. It’s a dialogue that won’t be neat or tidy.

                                                                                                                                                --GABRIELLE GURLEY


BEACON HILL

Radio Boston hosts Rev. Eugene Rivers and Rep. David Linsky of Natick to talk about the “three strikes” legislation pending in the Legislature.

CommonWealth offers dueling viewpoints about the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy.  The Conservancy board chair says a call by state officials for the group to plan for financial self-sufficiency was “significant and unexpected.” The Conservancy responds by hosting a hastily-arranged, closed conference call; in 2010, MassDOT told the Conservancy it expected the organization to abide by the state’s Open Meeting Law.

The public housing director salary cap proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick did not raise too many hackles in western Massachusetts, since most of the directors make well under the $160,000 he wants to see as the limit, which also matches federal requirements.

The Herald endorses an effort by state Sen. James Eldridge to ban fundraisers during state budget deliberations.

Patrick communications adviser Joe Landolfi leaves the administration.

KEVIN WHITE

NECN reports there hasn’t been anything like it since Ted Kennedy’s funeral. The city bade farewell to the man who did so much to remake it, in a funeral service that the Globe called “both a solemn burial rite and a rousing political roast.”

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Fall River city workers will see their health care costs and co-payments go up and retiree costs will go down but the city will save $3.7 million under the new state plan the 13 unions agreed to join.

Braintree is cracking down on delinquent property owners who haven’t paid their trash collection fees in several years and will stop picking up trash at those homes if the money is not paid by March 5.

The battle over management of Cohasset’s water supply is heating up as the town manager accused the water commission head, who already has been upbraided for bringing a cooler with beer to a public commission meeting, of violating state bidding laws and having a potential conflict of interest.

The MetroWest Daily News notes that voter ID laws largely supported by Republicans would not have stopped a Marlborough city council candidate from submitting an absentee ballot with the signature of a voter who died last year.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The Susan G. Komen Fund for the Cure, the country’s biggest breast cancer research group, is facing a growing backlash that it caved to anti-abortion activists over its decision to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood because it is being investigated by a Republican congressman.

The US will end its combat mission in Afghanistan next year, the Washington Post reports.

Indiana enacts a “right to work” law.

ELECTION 2012

Mitt Romney’s comment that he’s “not concerned about the very poor” is even getting conservatives up in arms, though for different reasons. But he did acknowledge “there’s no question, it’s not good being poor,” so give him that. This thing was basically gift wrapped for Gail Collins, and she gleefully tears into the episode. The Atlantic argues that the line is less of a gaffe than it is a very inartful articulation of Romney’s tax policy. The magazine also offers a look inside Democrats’ relentless anti-Romney spin machine.

The New York Times editorializes against a campaign in which “any line, no matter how brutal, is fair game if it brings a few more angry voters to your side.”

George Nuemayr at the American Spectator pulls no  punches in lambasting both Romney and the GOP establishment for compromising principles in favor of a “cheap and empty win” which he thinks will be neither if Romney is the nominee.

Super PACs are fueling a wild spending spree in the GOP primaries -- and shredding the public perception of the Republican candidates who are muddying each other up in ads like never before. The Times reports that the Obama campaign’s fundraising advantage is erased when super PAC money is counted.

Newt Gingrich and Sheldon Adelson will largely steer clear of each other in Nevada this weekend.

Slate interviews fearful Floridians about what sorts of terrible, awful things they expect from a second Obama term.

The PAC formed by Gov. Deval Patrick to aid President Obama’s reelection raised more than $575,000 last year

Republican challenger Richard Tisei raised $301,500 during the last three months of 2011, while incumbent US Rep. John Tierney brought in $160,000, the Salem News reports. The Lynn Item reports Tisei criticized Tierney for taking excessive PAC contributions.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The shuttered former Boston Herald building hard by the Southeast Expressway could be the new site of luxe living, retail outlets, and dining opportunities, according to developers’ vision.

The odds are improving that a casino will come to Rockingham Park in Salem, New Hampshire, reports the Eagle-Tribune.

A panel is recommending a cut in the regional cod catch, a move fishermen are not happy with. But the feds are working on a compromise.

Facebook files for a $5 billion IPO.

A pair of UBS traders plead guilty to misstating the value of soured mortgage-backed securities in order to inflate their own bonuses.

Activists with MassUniting, a coalition of Boston area community groups, protest corporate tax loopholes that resulted in General Electric avoiding paying income tax in 2010.

EDUCATION

The new receiver for the Lawrence Public Schools tells the teachers union that he plans to institute evaluations and a simpler contract, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

HEALTH CARE

The UMass health system plans to cut 700 to 900 jobs amid falling patient volume.

The number of suicides is up across the state since 2007, with Plymouth County showing a marked increase of 25 percent in the most recent data.

A remarkable -- and a bit chilling -- story of a family’s literal gift of helping hands.

The Cape Cod Times salutes a heath care partnership that helps Cape fishermen navigate the system to get proper medical care.

TRANSPORTATION

Massport plans to raise parking fees at Logan Airport.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Level 3 sex offender in Lynn moved out of his home and into a motel in Middleton to comply with an ordinance barring sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, the Lynn Item reports.

MEDIA

The Washington Post is encouraging reporters to jump into the comment threads of their own stories, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.

A former intern sues Hearst Corp. over unpaid work, the New York Times reports.

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