Tweeting a line from a Washington Post column landed President Barack Obama's re-election campaign manager in the fryer Wednesday, with many Republicans accusing Jim Messina of insensitivity toward Latinos over his "chimichanga" crack.
The tweet in question about the deep-fried burrito dish? "Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: 'The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos.'"
The origin of Messina's post came from Milbank's Tuesday column titled, "Does the GOP care about Latino voters?" In it, he questions the Republican Party's ability to connect with Hispanic voters in the face of its staunch opposition to the DREAM Act and anti-illegal immigration stance:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spoke about the wonders of his state. “The lettuce in your salad this month almost certainly came from Arizona,” McCain said. “It’s also believed that the chimichanga has its origin in Arizona.”
The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos.
Messina's tweet quickly drew GOP attention, with the Republican National Committee's Latino Twitter account seizing on his comment and re-tweeting a series of angry messages:
Other RNC officials got in on the action, including Alexandra Franceschi, who handles Latino press for the RNC. Messina "clearly doesn’t understand the diversity of Hispanic community. Hispanics deserve an apology for his inflammatory comment," Franceschi wrote. In another post, she said Messina's "insensitive comments only hurt the Hispanic community."
"You might need to call your own office on the ridiculous tweet re: chimichanga's. Very insensitive bro," RNC political director Rick Wiley wrote in a series of messages.
Jennifer Sevilla Korn, executive director of the conservative-leaning Hispanic Leadership Network, called for an immediate apology from the Obama campaign for the "insulting joke."
"The fact that the campaign manager of President Obama’s reelection campaign thinks it’s appropriate to disseminate insulting jokes about the Hispanic community is a perfect example of the kind of empty rhetoric that characterizes this White House’s so-called outreach to Latinos," Korn said in a statement. "We demand that Mr. Messina immediately apologize and we ask that President Obama disavow his campaign manager’s ridiculous statement. Liberals are always trying to put Hispanics in a box. In typical fashion, when liberals cannot speak substantively to the top issues facing our community, they resort to name calling."
But Messina defended his tweet in a follow-up message several hours later: "Tweeting someone else’s words caused a stir, but the GOP is on the wrong side of every Hispanic voter priority," he wrote, linking to a campaign memo detailing poor GOP standing among Hispanic voters.
That prompted a bewildered response from the RNC Latino account, which wrote: "Someone else? YOU called it line of the day… MT @
Messina2012: Tweeting someone else’s words caused a stir..."