If the race for the Republican presidential nomination were only decided by islands, Mitt Romney would be unstoppable. After racking up wins in Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the former governor cruised to an easy win in Puerto Rico yesterday.
And while it stands to reason Romney will pick up additional delegates anywhere he can -- Puerto Rico has 20 delegates, and the former governor will likely get all of them -- his reaction to the victory was rather amusing.
"Those people who don't think that Latinos will vote for a Republican need to take a look at Puerto Rico," Romney said from a suburb north of Chicago. "I intend to become our nominee and I intend to get Latino voters to vote for a Republican and take back the White House.
That's a nice spin, I suppose, but there's no reason for anyone to take this seriously.
For one thing, Romney was practically a shoo-in in Puerto Rico. As Ed Kilgore explained, Romney endorsed statehood, was endorsed by Puerto Rico's governor, and was against Rick Santorum, who spent much of the last week doing damage control after offending Puerto Ricans.
More importantly, though, Romney's claim is almost amusing -- he thinks Latinos will vote Republican in 2012 because he won the Republican primary in Puerto Rico? Is this some sort of joke? Yesterday's primary doesn't tell us Latino voters like Republicans in general or Romney specifically; it tells us Romney managed to be less offensive to Puerto Rico Republicans than Rick Santorum.
In case the GOP frontrunner has forgotten, take a look at the latest Fox News Latino poll -- on the left, the columns show Obama's edge over the GOP nominee in 2008, when exit polls showed McCain losing this constituency by 36 points. On the right, those columns show Obama's advantage over Romney among Latino voters.
"Those people who don't think that Latinos will vote for a Republican need to take a look at Puerto Rico"? Let's be serious -- Romney drove Latinos away to curry favor with his right-wing base. A primary win doesn't change that fact.