The Republican National Committee is accusing Obama campaign manager Jim Messina of insensitivity toward Latinos after he tweeted a line from a Dana Milbank column about Republican failures to lure the Latino vote Wednesday morning.
The Obama campaign manager snagged the line from this Milbank column entitled, “Does the GOP care about Latino voters?” The column wonders aloud if Republicans will be able to reach out to the growing Latino vote this year after embracing more right-wing positions on the DREAM Act and other issues important to the Latino electorate.
Here’s the tweet in question from Messina:
Line of the day from WAPO’s Dana Milbank: “The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos.”— Jim Messina (@Messina2012) February 15, 2012
The section Messina posted comes from a portion of the column where Milbank is referring to a recent quote from 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spoke about the wonders of his state. “The lettuce in your salad this month almost certainly came from Arizona,” McCain said. “It’s also believed that the chimichanga has its origin in Arizona.”
The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos.
The line ruffled feathers at the RNC.
The RNC’s press secretary for Latino press, Alexandra Franceschi, called on Messina to apologize:
.@Messina2012 clearly doesn’t understand the diversity of Hispanic community. Hispanics deserve an apology for his inflammatory comment.— Alexandra Franceschi (@franceschi_alex) February 15, 2012
In an interview Wednesday, Franceschi said that by calling the line from Milbank “the line of the day,” Messina was “ignoring the diversity of the Hispanic community in the United States.”
“What the RNC’s trying to do here, we’re just pointing out how insensitive the remark is. And insensitive it is to call it the ‘line of the day,’” Franceschi told me. “Hispanics in the US are a very diverse community and I think that by putting a comment out there like this and saying it’s ‘the line of the day,’ he’s basically lumping all Hispanics into one big group. And that’s just a very insensitive remark.”
“As a Hispanic, I’m from Venezuela originally, it’s an insensitive remark,” she continued. “And that’s what the RNC is trying to point out.”
Franceschi said the RNC was “not making a comment on Dana Milbank’s column,” which of course is basically a long criticism of how Republicans have been insensitive to the needs of the Latino community. Franceschi said the Republican beef is with Messina and his decision to tweet the line out.
“We would like to see him apologize, but we just really want to point out his remarks to the Hispanic community in the US and making sure people are seeing the insensitivity coming out of the Obama campaign,” she said.
Are you saying the Obama campaign is generally insensitive? I asked.
“I mean, I’m not sure if I would go that far,” Franceschi said.
Update: Messina tweeted his response early Wednesday afternoon. It was not an apology.