The silence in the luncheon seemed deafening as the question seemed settled: would presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney address this week’s gathering of the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights group?
There, on video screens in a Las Vegas banquet hall was not the former governor of Massachusetts, but images of him and his family, with a narration by his wife, Ann.
And, instead of talking about issues relating to Latinos in front of a massive gathering of the National Council of La Raza, she was talking about — his leadership skills in handling the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
After a few minutes, the video was over and attendees were left to quietly contemplate — what? The snubbing by the Romney campaign? The disconnect between the video and the audience? The dearth of Hispanics in winter Olympic sports? Really?
The 2002 Winter Olympics? The Romney camp didn’t even bother to produce something special for the largest Hispanic organization in the country? Couldn’t they have even tried putting Mitt Romney on air to give us those traditional political greetings in broken Spanish?
Yes. This was a rallying moment for national Hispanics — at just the right place. Let the Latino leadership of this country rush to the podium to denounce this insult. Good, the lovely Maria Elena Salinas, of Univision, was the first live speaker after the video.
She could address what was on all of our minds, not by declaring or decrying anything that this video slap in the face represented. She could simply do what TV reporters and anchors do best: ask questions.
Questions like: what was the Romney camp thinking?
She went on as if this video did not exist, perhaps a fitting metaphor for the moment since the video treated Hispanics as if they didn’t exist.
It wasn’t until NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguia took the podium that she finally said something about the lack of Romney’s attendance. She called it ‘a missed opportunity’ but didn’t address the video.
But let’s not ignore what happen. Let’s address the elephant in the room. The Republican elephant. If the Hispanic leadership in this country could not use this forum to point out this insult, then perhaps the political empowerment of the Hispanic community isn’t as close as we have been led to believe.