Cafe owner threatened for not hosting Romney

Oscar Aguirre, who runs Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe in Denver. KCNC

A local Mexican restaurant in Denver have been caught in a political firestorm for refusing to host Mitt Romney for a campaign stop. The owners of the Denver restaurant say that since they turned down the request to host the event, they have been receiving hate mail and harassing phone calls, including death threats.

Oscar Aguirre, who runs Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe in Denver, described such as call to CBS Station KCNC: "They say, 'I know where you live. I'm going to get you. Watch your back.'"

Aguirre said they have received 500 emails and non-stop phone calls since the story surfaced Wednesday that they refused the Romney campaign's request to host a political function.

"The way he presented it to us was because we're Latinos, we're Mormon, we're a small business, what a great venue to host a political presidential campaign stop," Aguirre said.

"Did he ask to come and eat here, or just to do a political stop?" asked KCNC correspondent Jodi Brooks.

"Be a political stop," Aguirre said.

Aguirre's parents own the restaurant, and the family decided to decline the request, "because, Mom said, we're not Republicans, we're not going to be a political campaign stop," Aguirre said, adding that the restaurant didn't want to get caught up in the presidential politics, and would have refused a request from the Obama campaign, too.

Instead, Romney visited a Chipotle in Denver last week during a break from his debate-prep session. An Associated Press photo with an employee who donned a wide-eyed look of amazement became popular on the Internet.

Local businesses becoming the subject of national politics is not new this campaign season. Last month, a Florida pizza shop owner received a backlash for giving President Obama a spontaneous bear hug that literally swept the president off his feet. After the picture flooded the Internet, The Big Apple's Pizza Yelp page was flooded with negative reviews, with statements including "shame on you" and "talk about committing business suicide."

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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