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Univision’s one-on-one interviews with Romney and Gingrich underscore the flaws of both in connecting with Latinos

LatinaLista — The latest poll on next week’s Florida primary shows Gingrich and Romney are neck-and-neck.

Univision host Jorge Ramos conducts a morning interview with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

Surging since his South Carolina Republican presidential primary win, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wipes out a 12-point lead by Mitt Romney to tie the former Massachusetts governor in Florida, according to a Quinnipiac University poll release today. The final tally is 36 percent for Romney to 34 percent for Gingrich among likely voters in the Florida Republican presidential primary, but Gingrich gets 40 percent to 34 percent for Romney among likely voters surveyed after the South Carolina primary.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum receives 13 percent to 10 percent for Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

Being in such a tight race, it’s inevitable the candidates are going to do what they can to attract Florida voters.

Today, the candidates took turns sitting down with Univision’s Jorge Ramos for one-on-one interview.

Newt Gingrich was the first to sit down with Ramos for an interview at Miami Dade College.

Relaxed and acting, what has been described during past debate performances, as “presidential,” Gingrich answered, or more accurately, corrected Ramos in his questioning.

What became acutely clear during the interview, as I read through the transcript, is that with Gingrich it’s all a matter of semantics.

He seems to be a master at literal speech and as long as he sticks to that strategy, he will evade the “hypocrite” label.

Where he’s not a hypocrite is in his ideas about how the undocumented should be treated. He wasted no time to say that his (main) opponent Romney lacked humanity and was fantasizing about people self-deporting but, unfortunately, Gingrich didn’t illustrate that his solution touched any closer to reality.

In the afternoon, it was Mitt Romney’s turn to sit face-to-face with Ramos. It became agonizingly clear that Romney sees the world through the lens of a businessman. While that may be good for the economy, it isn’t good in connecting with people.

Someone from the audience asked Romney how he would ensure that Hispanic families have safe and affordable health care access because so many were afraid of going bankrupt from personal or family illness. His response didn’t even address the heart of the question until he was halfway through it. He was more concerned with explaining how “Obamacare” was hurting small business.

Ramos also asked Romney if he felt Mexican American since his father was born in Mexico. From the transcript, it’s easy to “hear” his discomfort.

While these interviews didn’t reveal anything surprising, they did reveal how these candidates interact one-on-one with a representative of the Latino community — neither offered much esperanza (hope).

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