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Did Mitt Romney pull a Hillary?

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 20, 2007 11:28 AM

bheraldmitt.jpg
Mitt Romney photoshopped (or rather, “photo/illustrated”) as Fidel Castro on the front cover of the Boston Herald (hat tip – Sondra K)

Hillary Clinton’s Southern accent and black vote pandering were awful.

Mitt Romney’s Spanish accent and Cuban vote pandering look just as bad. The Miami Herald reported yesterday:

Presidential candidate bungles speech in Miami
BY BETH REINHARD

People chuckled when presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon raised in Michigan and elected in Massachusetts, bungled the names of Cuban-American politicians during a recent speech in Miami.

But when he mistakenly associated Fidel Castro’s trademark speech-ending slogan — Patria o muerte, venceremos! — with a free Cuba, listeners didn’t laugh. They winced.

Castro has closed his speeches with the phrase — in English, ”Fatherland or death, we shall overcome” — for decades.

”Clearly, that’s something he was ill-advised on or didn’t do his homework on,” said Hialeah City Council President Esteban Bovo. “When you get cute with slogans, you get yourself into a trap.”

Both the Boston Herald and the Miami Herald quote Romney saying this:

“Hugo Chavez has tried to steal an inspiring phrase – Patria o muerte, venceremos,” Romney said. “It does not belong to him. It belongs to a free Cuba.”

Which prompted this retort from University of Miami Professor Jaime Suchlicki in the Miami paper:

”It belongs to Fidel,” said Suchlicki, an expert on Cuban history. “I don’t know where [Romney] got that.”

The Romney campaign did not explain how the words got into the speech.

”Gov. Romney was trying to make the point that the phrase should not be used by oppressors, but by liberators,” said campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho. “It was an unfortunate error in the language that certainly wasn’t meant to offend.”

Romney’s site has the remarks as prepared for delivery:

“I said at the outset that the threat in Latin America is unprecedented. I say that because the Castros have a second tyrant and he has great wealth, from oil. We must stand just as firm against caudillos like Hugo Chavez, tutored by Fidel Castro. Chavez and Castro are brothers in blood, intent on personal gratification at the expense of their people. Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have stolen the phrase – ‘Patria o muerte, venceremos.’ This phrase should not be used by dictators, but by liberators.

So how bungled a bungle was it? A full transcript of Romney’s remarks as delivered might help settle things.

SWLiP
and Ed Morrissey are willing to cut Romney some slack.

But Val Prieto at Babalu Blog thinks the fallout’s pretty clear: “Mitt Romney Loses 2008 Florida Vote, in 2007.” There’s a spirited debate in his comments section.

Manuel A. Tellechea says however the phrase came out of Romney’s mouth, it’s a botch:

Even taken out of its historial context (where in practice there was no “patria” just “muerte), the phrase itself is repulsive. It posits a choice that doesn’t and shouldn’t exist. We should be able to enjoy our country without having to kill ourselves or others. “Patria o Muerte” implies a perpetual state of war and murder as the only standard of patriotism. It is an eminently appropriate motto for the Cuban Revolution and Castro’s Marxist-Fascist state. It is not an appropriate motto for a future Free Cuba. Besides, we don’t need a new motto; we already have one: “Patria y Libertad.”

And Val adds more bluntly:

“Patria o muerte venceremos!” was created by the castro regime. It is their slogan of slogans. Whatever Romney’s point was, it was a horrendous choice. You dont go into a Jewish community and use “sieg heil!” to get chummy with said community.

I find it funnier than I do insulting but seriously, if someone is gonna come to my house to kiss my ass, he should does his best not to piss me off in the process.

At HA yesterday, Allah and commenters were equally ruthless:

Allah: “Coming soon: Mitt tells the Italian-American Anti-Defamation League he’s going to make them an offer they can’t refuse.”

Ali Bubba: “¡Romney es El Panderista!”

The Romney campaign: Not yet ready for primo tiempo.

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