Ann Romney woos Latino voters in luncheon speech

Republican party convention delegates wave posters while the presidential candidate Mitt Romney's wife Ann greets the crowd at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, on August 28, 2012 during the Republican National Convention.

(CBS News) TAMPA, Fla. - Ann Romney made an aggressive pitch to Latino voters in a luncheon speech on Wednesday, suggesting the Hispanic community has been a solid Democratic voting bloc because they have been unfairly misled that Republicans don't care about them.

Her politically-centered remarks at the Latino Coalition Luncheon presented a sharp contrast to her family-focused address at Tuesday night's Republican National Convention. She said that Republicans share the community's concern about small businesses and family values, blaming Democrats for poisoning the well of public opinion.

"It really is a message that would resonate well if they could just get past some of their biases that have been there from the Democratic machines that have made us look like we don't care about this community," the wife of presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney said. "And that is not true. We very much care about you and your families and the opportunities that are there for you and your families."

Ann Romney has paid most of her attention to women voters in the convention thus far, but said in her speech she realized the election is equally important for Latinos.

"They are mistaken if they think they are going to be better off with Barack Obama as their president," she said. "There really is only one way for prosperity, for small business, and that is this is the simplest way I can say this: If Mitt Romney wins, America wins."

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Obama garnered 67 percent of the Latino vote in the 2008 election and is poised to make close to a repeat performance this time, as Romney's harsh rhetoric on the subject of illegal immigration turned off some Hispanic voters during the primary.

A poll released last week by NBC News, The Wall Street Journal and Telemundo showed Obama leading the demographic group by 63 percent to 28 percent. While Obama's share has dropped by four percent, Romney's is still lower than the 31 percent of the Hispanic vote that former GOP nominee John McCain received in 2008.

Ann Romney was introduced at the luncheon by her son, Craig, who opened by telling the crowd in impeccable Spanish what a pleasure it was to be at the luncheon and work with the Latino community. Craig Romney has done a number of Spanish-language ads for his father's campaign.

Her pitch to voters sought to connect with the audience of about 150 on family values, a subject on which many Hispanic voters hold more conservative views.

"I admire your community so much because I know how much you value family and how strong you are and devoted you are to your families and what sacrifices you make for your families," she said.

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.