When Craig Romney arrived from a mission trip to Chile ten years ago, he came home with a better understanding of Latino culture and the Spanish language.
He remembers the “huge headaches” he experienced in the first two months, when he had to learn the intricacies of such things as how to conjugate verbs.
It’s where our party has failed the Hispanic community.
- Craig Romney, on GOP and Immigration
But one thing he didn’t pick up – political vocabulary.
"I didn't really get into politics," Craig recalls of the trip, "though I have gotten better versed.”
Craig showcased his new Spanish political campaign catch phrases recently in prime-time at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Phrases like "lograr el sueno Americano," meaning to achieve the Ameican Dream, "una nación de inmigrantes," meaning a nation of immigrants and "un hombre de familia" meaning a family man.
It’s a responsibility he’s taken seriously.
“I listen to the radio in Spanish,” he explains. "I watch Univision and Telemundo to pick up on it. A lot of it has been trial and error."
The youngest of five sons, Craig, 31 years old, has traveled the country with a heavy burden -- convincing historically Democratic Latino voters that his Republican father should be President of the United States.
Recent polls show Latino voters support President Barack Obama over Romney by a two-to-one margin.
Critics point to Romney's tough stances on immigration during the GOP primary season, his hard-lined immigration rhetoric, and the full-breath support for the architect of strict immigration laws such as Arizona's SB1070, Kris Kobach, as the main reason of discontent.
But if you ask Craig, despite the challenges with this pivotal voting bloc, he says, the campaign has been gaining momentum.
"I think they are getting to know my dad and his values, and his plan," he told Fox News Latino in a telephone interview from a Hispanic Small Business dialogue in North Carolina. "We have seen a swelling of support from the community."
The question is: What constitutes as swelling?
“I had people tell me we had 20 percent support just recently,” Craig said of polls that show his father is now garnering 30 percent of the Latino vote nationally. “I think we are ticking up. I think my dad's message has really been resonating particularly with the economy.”
Critics say Craig is nothing but a poster child for a campaign that is in desperation mode with regard to connecting with Latino voters.
It's an accusation he denies.
When asked about being the Latino face for the campaign he says with a chuckle: "I am just a cog in the wheel. I'm happy to help out anyway I can."
Craig has toured five battleground states in the last week or so, three of which hinge on the Latino vote – Florida, Colorado and Nevada, where the message is the same – there are 23 million unemployed Americans and around 10 percent are Latino.
The Romney campaign has acknowledged its goal is 38 percent of the Latino vote.
Political scientists such as Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, believe Romney must win close to 40 percent of the national Latino vote, although there is a slight margin for error.
“If white turnout is up relative to other races, then Romney could get away with a slightly lower proportion,” Sabato says. “Romney is clearly ahead in Arizona and should win that. Obama will win New Mexico and probably Nevada. Romney ought to win Florida unless the Medicare issue peels off too many seniors, and Colorado is a total toss-up.”
The pressure is on for Craig, who acknowledges the Republican Party has made a mistake with immigration.
“It’s where our party has failed the Hispanic community,” he says. “I think there has been decisive language with fringe areas of the party that has alienated a lot of potential supporters.”
Craig continues to practice his Spanish in the hope he'll be able to convince Latino voters that his father will bring both parties together for true immigration reform if elected president.
Just as long, that is, as there isn't too much lost in translations.
While on a recent campaign stop in Miami, Craig confused the Spanish word for successful, exitoso, with to happen, suceder.
In Craig's case, the campaign is hoping that come November 6, they can claim to have been exitoso.