Antonio Villaraigosa backpedals from rough Republican remarks

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Cesar Chavez once refused to criticize fellow Hispanics by citing what he called “my 11th Commandment”:  Thou shalt not attack a fellow Latino.”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, chairman of the Democratic National Convention, must have finally heard this refrain from the late Hispanic leader because Sunday he softened his criticism of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in a nationally televised program.
Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama, Antonio Villaraigosa

North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa preview this week’s Democratic convention on CNN Sunday.

On FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Villaraigosa was called to answer for last week’s harsh attack on Rubio and other Hispanic Republicans involved in the Republican convention last week.

“You can’t just trot out a brown face with a Spanish surname and expect people are going to vote for your party and your candidate,” Villaraigosa said last week.

On Sunday, having come under criticism for his remarks, Villaraigosa backtracked, saying, “I was never directing my comments to him [Rubio].”

Villaraigosa, though, is one of those people who insults even when he apologizes and he went on to say: “[But] he has a party platform that calls for the deportation of 11 million people.”

The mayor appeared sightly ruffled in what was to be the beginning of possibly the biggest week of his life. Villaraigosa, who is also President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign co-chair, made several televised appearances, continuing the drumbeat against GOP challenger Mitt Romney that he began last week during the Republican National Convention.

“We want to crystallize the path before usthe choices the American people have this election,” Villaraigosa told CNN’s “State Of The Union.”

Then he told Fox News that Democrats have a “plan to take us forward.”

“I don’t want to describe either Gov. Mitt Romney or the Republicans as stupid, but I will say if you look at their platform, the 2012 platform, it looks like it is from another century and maybe even two. It looks like the platform of 1812,” Villaraigosa said.

“When you see that they want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, providing 32 million people with health care with no alternative plan of their own, they call for the deportation of 11 million people. No country in the world has ever done that. They don’t believe in abortion in the case of rape and incest. It is it a platform that’s from another century.”

But Villaraigosa has been going like the Energizer Bunny, haranguing the Republicans for more than a week, and did show signs that maybe his battery life was lowlike when he began to criticize Democrats for dragging their feet on some issues.

“Again, if I don’t call Romney and the Republicans stupid, I am certainly not going to call the Democrats and President Obama stupid,” Villaraigosa said.

Antonio Villaraigosa, chairman of the Democratic National Convention, did a three-show TV tour Sunday, including this appearance on State of the Nation.

“But I will say thisI think there are some Democrats that don’t want to address pension reform. I have taken on the issue of seniority and tenure. I think we have to address entitlements and the president has done that in this budget. I think we have to extend Medicare, and the president has done that, but reinvest.”

The Washington Examiner’s Joel Gehrke saw Villaraigosa’s Sunday performance on Fox as being that he “sounded like a Mitt Romney campaign surrogate for a moment, when he said that President Obama ‘doesn’t want to cut taxes for the middle class.’

When asked about Obama’s rejection of his Simpson-Bowles Commission’s proposed deficit reduction plan, Villaraigosa told Chris Wallace on Fox:

“(Obama) doesn’t want to cut taxes for the middle class. He’d prefer closing tax loopholes and importantly, allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the top 2 percent.”

Gehrke saw it as Villaraigosa “actually [going] beyond them in terms of tax cuts to the middle class.”

“In any case,” wrote Gehrke, “the Romney team will view it as a welcome echo of their criticism of Obama.”

Villaraigosa also dismissed efforts by GOP elected officials last week to woo Latinos by insisting that the Republican Party’s hard-line on immigration would continue to alienate Hispanics.

“Self-deportation of 11 million people? No country in the world has ever done that,” Villaraigosa said of the GOP’s stand on asking illegal immigrants to voluntarily return to their homeland.

The Republican Party “scapegoats and demonizes immigrants,” he said.

On C-SPAN’s Newsmakers, Villaraigosa said Republicans have fought Democrats to a standstill over Medicare, with voters still not yet clear on each campaign’s approach.

He also accused Republicans of having “misrepresented” and “mischaracterized” what the president’s 2010 health care law did.

“We’re going to have to make it clear,” he said, “so that it’s not something that’s negative.”

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