Hispanic leaders condemn Romney for criticizing Sotomayor in ad

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In a recent television add aired in Michigan, Mitt Romney criticized Rick Santorum for voting to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the federal circuit court in 1998, a move Hispanic leaders say is another sign that Romney is out of touch with Latino voters.

Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court and was confirmed by the Senate in 2009 with a 68-31 margin. She became the first Hispanic woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and is well-supported among Latinos.

Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico told reporters Tuesday that Romney’s attack on Sotomayor:

“is yet another clear sign to our community that Mitt Romney wants the Tea Party vote, not the Latino vote.”

Pierluisi said Romney’s recent push to enact a national version of Arizona’s immigration law, which is not favorable among most Hispanics, doesn’t come unexpected. To go after Sotomayor, however, is taking it too far, he said.

“It’s not surprising that Romney is out of touch with our priorities – we already knew that,” Pierluisi said. “But it is profoundly disappointing that he would use a highly qualified justice, who received bipartisan support, … as a political weapon to hit his opponent.”

Romney’s add, which was released Feb. 24 and in which Sotomayor is described as a “liberal judge,” came out the same day he picked up the endorsement of Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is among the nine Republican senators who voted to confirm Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

Florida State Rep. Darren Soto (D-Orlando) said the attack on Sotomayor is “the latest chapter in Romney’s anti-Hispanic campaign.” He said Romney has been receiving the most attention from Hispanics because “he is using this anti-Hispanic rhetoric to bolster fake claims that he is the most severely conservative candidate.”

Romney’s promise to veto the DREAM Act, his latest push for the “self-deportation” of undocumented immigrants, and his support from leading anti-immigrant voices such as Kris Kobach, the author of Alabama’s and Arizona’s tough immigration laws, are not helping him gain support from Latino voters, Soto said.

“Hispanics and Puerto Ricans in Florida and beyond are listening, and Mitt Romney’s extreme positions are not going unnoticed,” he said.

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