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September 19th, 2012
11:17 AM ET

President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund Mario Lopez on Romney's fundraiser comment: 'it was a joke'

Mitt Romney is appealing to the Latino vote today with a “Juntos con Romney” rally in Miami and a special on Univision featuring Romney in a “Meet the Candidates” forum at the University of Miami. All of this comes just two days after a secret recording of the candidate was released showing him making light of his disconnect with the Latino vote. Romney supporter and President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund Mario Lopez joins Zoraida Sambolin on “Early Start” this morning with his take on the remark.

“I think that it was a joke,” Lopez says. Lopez compares it to an earlier joke Romney made in January saying “that it might be easier for him to win the Florida primary if he could convince folks of his Latino heritage,” like in the leaked recording. “I don’t think it was offensive at all.”

Sambolin asks if it shows that Romney is out of touch with the Latino community. “I disagree,” Lopez says. “I think what’s much more out of touch is the fact that we have two million more Hispanics in poverty over the last four years under President Obama, that we have record number of people on food stamps, that we have 23 million people out of work, a lot of whom have given up hope of finding a job, and frankly the Hispanic unemployment is much higher than that for the general population.”

Sambolin offers that perhaps this is precisely why Romney should take it seriously and not approach the subject with humor. Lopez responds that “this represents a great opportunity for him to explain exactly why it is that free market policies are better for all income groups.”

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