TAMPA, Fla. -- Ann Romney today placed blame on the Democratic Party for creating "biases" in the Latino community that, she argued, are anti-Republican.
The wife of the soon-to-be GOP presidential nominee said she, like many Republicans, understands and sympathizes with Latinos and how many came to this country for a better life.
"So it really is a message that would resonate well if they could just get past some of their biases that have been there from the Democratic machines that have made us look like we don’t care about this community. And that is not true," she said. "We very much care about you and your families and the opportunities that are there for you and your families."
But Democrats and even some Republicans -- like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush -- say that it has been the Republican Party's tone toward illegal immigration that has hurt the GOP with this demographic group.
For his part, Mitt Romney has been accused of using illegal immigration as a political weapon against his intra-party rivals.
In 2007-2008, Romney's campaign aired a TV ad with the candidate stating, "I opposed driver's licenses and in-state tuition for illegal aliens. As president, I'll oppose amnesty, cut funding for sanctuary cities and secure our borders. Legal immigration is great, but illegal immigration -- that's got to stop.”
During this GOP primary season, Romney touted the endorsement of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (who helped co-author Arizona’s controversial immigration law), and he recommended that illegal immigrants self-deport.
Speaking to nearly 150 members of the Latino Coalition at a luncheon as part of the convention, Ann Romney tried to emphasize the magnitude of the November election that pits her husband against President Barack Obama.
"It's also very important that the Latino community recognize how important this election is for them. And they are mistaken if they think they are going to be better off with Barack Obama as their president," she said. "There really is only one way for prosperity, for small business, and that is this is the simplest way I can say this: If Mitt Romney wins, America wins."
Obama won two-thirds of the Latino vote during the 2008 election. In the recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll, Obama held a similar lead over Romney among that demographic group.
Ann Romney said reaching out to specific pockets of the electorate, like the Latino community and females -- as she did this morning and in her speech Tuesday night -- is a key role of hers during her husband's campaign for the White House.
"For me, I feel like my importance in speaking out is making sure those coalitions that would nationally be going for another party wake up and say you better really look at the issues this time. You better really look at your future and figure out who's going to be the guy that's going to make it better for you and your children. And there is only one answer," she said.
Craig Romney, Mitt and Ann's youngest son, who introduced his mother at the luncheon, is fluent in Spanish and has played a big part in Hispanic outreach in the Sunshine State -- a state with 29 electoral votes up for grabs.
"It's very important that we get our message out in Florida to the Latino community, in particular. And I know this boy right here has been doing a great job of representing my husband with a great voice," Ann said "I know he’s been doing a lot of advertising, radio advertising and TV interviews and everything else. We’re so proud of him."
And showing off her motherly side, Ann Romney added:
"I have no idea what he’s ever saying when he’s speaking Spanish, but I’m so proud. I just sit there and beam when I hear him speak, as a mother always would."