Democrats are capitalizing on Mitt Romney's decision to attack Rick Santorum for his 1998 vote to confirm future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, taking the opportunity to drive a wedge between Romney and Hispanic voters.
Jay Sekulow, a leading conservative lawyer, criticizes Santorum in the radio ad (above) for voting to confirm Sotomayor to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals during his time in the Senate. The vote "put her on a path to the Supreme Court," says Sekulow. "Twenty-nine of his Republican colleagues voted against her."
"With Mitt Romney, we know what kind of judges we will get," says Sekulow in the ad, airing today in Ohio.
A Democratic National Committee official told BuzzFeed the DNC will be circulating a statement from Juan Sepúlveda, Senior Advisor for Hispanic Affairs:
Mitt Romney is, again, choosing to pander to the extremes in his party and his latest attacks on Justice Sotomayor are yet another clear sign that he is on the wrong side of every issue of importance to Hispanic voters.
Let’s not forget: Justice Sotomayor was confirmed with the support of nine Republican senators because she has unparalleled judiciary experience, intellect, respect for the Constitution, and common sense. That’s why she belongs on our nation’s highest court, and that’s why she’s a role model for our families. Unfortunately, this is not Romney’s first attack on Sotomayor. It’s clear that, in Justice Sotomayor, Mitt Romney does not see a role model, but a political pawn that he can attack at will if it gets him a vote.
Mitt Romney has shown time and again that he is after the Tea Party vote, not the Latino vote, and with each attack he locks himself more to his extreme positions. Hispanics are listening, and Mitt Romney’s attacks will not going unnoticed.
Some Hispanic Republicans also raised an eyebrow at the invocation of Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, who is broadly popular among Hispanic voters.
"He is miscalculating what a likable and inspirational figure she is to many Latinos and how fiercely proud of her Puerto Ricans are," said Ana Navarro, a Florida Republican who advised John McCain in 2008 and Jon Huntsman this year. "God knows he already has his share of problems with the Latino community."
UPDATE: Romney spokesman Albert Martinez says in an emailed statement:
Once again President Obama and his liberal allies are resorting to dishonest smears in an attempt to distract Hispanics from his abysmal record as President. Sonia Sotomayor is an activist judge who was handpicked by both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama because of her liberal sympathies and confirmed because Washington insiders like Rick Santorum did nothing to oppose her. This attacks says a lot about how President Obama views the Hispanic community, as just another group of Americans he can pander to and divide for political gain.