In an effort to court Latino voters, the RNC’s Spanish-language outreach website installed a prominent photo of adorable Latino children as its main image. Or at least that’s what the RNC thought the photo depicted. It turns out the kids aren’t Latino at all.
In an embarrassing mix-up, US News and World Report discovered that RNCLatinos.com used a stock photo apparently depicting Asian children on the site. The image they chose is tagged by its creators with such terms as “asian,” “thailand,” “japanese” and “interracial,” as are dozens of related photos by the same source featuring Asian preschoolers playing in parks.
RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski told TPM that “an outside vendor developed the site and it is being corrected immediately.” The image has since been taken down, replaced with a text banner in English that says “HISPANIC LATINO STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS.”
The incident recalls former Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s infamous moment in her 2010 campaign against Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), in which she told a group of Latino students that “some of you look a little more Asian to me.”
The Republican Party is currently at a low point with Latino voters in general election polling after tacking to the right on immigration in recent years, and the move also reflects ongoing difficulties with the RNC’s Hispanic outreach division in particular. In April, an RNC press secretary for Latino media, Alexandra Franceschi, described the Republican economic plan as similar to President Bush’s “just updated,” a line that made its way into Democratic attacks. Last month, RNC Hispanic Outreach Director Bettina Inclan said in a conference call that Mitt Romney was “still deciding what his position on immigration is” before backtracking on her statement after Democrats again seized on the slip.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.