Miami Herald vs. Mitt Romney

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On March 9, Mitt Romney gave a speech to a Cuban American audience. The Miami Herald covered it the next day, mentioning nothing of any gaffes he might have made that would have insulted Cuban Americans. On March 19, ten days after the actual event, they ran a second column about Romney's speech, this time focusing in on his reappropriation of a phrase that Fidel Castro has long used, one that Hugo Chavez has recently adopted as well. The point of the second, much later writeup was to show Romney's insensitivity for using a Castro expression in a positive manner, which would insult most Cuban Americans. Consider their quotation of Romney:

''Hugo Chávez 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.''

I've seen this around several places, including SmartChristian, without any acknowledgment of the contrary data. Romney's website has a copy of the speech, which says:

Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have stolen the phrase - 'Patria o muerte, venceremos.' This phrase should not be used by dictators, but by liberators.

What Romney used as a criticism of both Castro and Chavez's use of this phrase was reported as Romney's ignorance that Castro even uses the phrase, which no one knowing what the actual speech says could think. If the speech on Romney's site is correct, then this is a clear example of misreporting in a way that guarantees misinterpretation. I'm not sure how someone who had access to his speech could possibly bungle things as badly as that. Of course it's possible Romney pulled a John Kerry and posted an official version of the speech that didn't match up to what he'd said on the occasion (and the reporter has claimed as much). Without a recording, we can't know for sure. I'm not sure why the original report have included something about this, however, if he had really said what the second piece claims. I can't rule out a deliberate attempt to make Romney look insensitive toward a minority voting bloc that has been pretty good to Republicans in the past. But without audio of the event, which the Miami Herald isn't releasing, there's no way to be sure what he said.

For more, see the discussions at Captain's Quarters and Race 4 2008.

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