Mitt Romney Wins Major Latino Endorsement in Florida (UPDATED)

Romney speaking at Florida's Republican National Hispanic Assembly conference

Mitt Romney picked up a major endorsement from three prominent Latino Republicans in Florida. The GOP Presidential frontrunner won the support of Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and his brother, former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

The approval from the three Cuban-American leaders is a huge boost for Romney and can help him further appeal to Hispanics and especially Cuban-Americans in Florida. It is a sign of Romney’s strength going into the Florida Primary, scheduled for January 31.

The endorsement from the Cuban-American leaders is an indicator that Romney will make a big push to win Cuban-Americans and Hispanic voters in Florida. Miami-Dade is Florida’s largest and most-Hispanic county. According to the Miami Herald, Hispanic voters, nearly all of whom are of Cuban descent, account for 72 percent of the roughly 368,000 registered Republicans in the county.

The Cuban-American vote is a vital constituency group for Florida Republicans and has been a key for GOP candidates to win the nomination. A fact Romney, and all the GOP candidates are well aware of. In 2008 Senator John McCain obtained the endorsements of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mel Martinez. McCain went on to win the Florida’s GOP Primary by a margin of 97,000 votes. McCain’s Miami-Dade margin: 52,000. The Florida win catapulted McCain to win the nomination and ended Romney’s candidacy.

Now all four Cuban-American leaders have thrown their full support towards Mitt Romney.  That equates to major good news for Romney’s chances to capture the nomination.

Make no doubt about it, the Latino leaders will be on Florida’s spanish-language radio and television promoting their candidate to Hispanic voters statewide. They will make the case, that in this economy, the nation needs a leader with Romney’s economic credentials.

According to the Miami Herald:

“…[Mel] Martinez said he was backing Romney because he is the candidate with the best record and the best chance of beating President Barack Obama.

“I understand Mitt Romney to be a fair-minded, decent person,” Martinez said. “I’m not concerned about what may be some difference in nuances.”

Representative Diaz-Balart said in a written statement that he’s backing Romney because “we need a president who won’t apologize for America, but will work to secure free markets, economic opportunity, and human rights for all people around the world. Mitt Romney is that leader who will make America stronger and more respected in the world.”

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