Romney's Cousin Says Mitt Failed to Court Latinos

PHOTO: Kelly Wayne Romney says that Mitts tough stance on immigration alienated him from Hispanic voters. On three occasions he tried to warn Mitt about his mistake.

Manuel Rueda

One of Mitt Romney's Mexican cousins said on Tuesday that he thinks Mitt lost the election because of the tough stance that he took on immigration issues early on in his campaign, and because he was unable to "court" Hispanic voters.

It's an argument that has been put forward by several election analysts.

But Kelly Romney, a distant relative of Mitt Romney's, believes that he could've stopped Romney from damaging his own campaign. "It's just a real tragedy I think that he did not connect with us where we could've helped him. I really think it would've made a difference in the election," Kelly told ABC/Univision as he watched election coverage on Fox news.

During this past campaign season, Kelly Romney sent three $160 checks to his second cousin's campaign.

To each check, Kelly also attached a note that explained who he was and where he lived, asking for a meeting with the candidate where both men could discuss immigration policy and the Hispanic vote.

The checks were cashed. But a meeting with Mitt was never granted to Kelly, one of several second cousins of Mitt who live in the Mormon enclave of Colonia Juarez, Mexico.

During the Republican primaries Mitt Romney said he would push for undocumented immigrants living in the United States to "self deport," themselves. He also said he would veto DREAM Act legislation that impacts some children of undocumented immigrants.

Kelly Romney figures that such statements were made to appeal to right wing voters who may have voted for other Republican candidates, but he thinks that this distanced Romney from Hispanic voters in crucial swing states.

"Mitt wants to uphold [immigration] law." Kelly said. "But if you're starving to death you're going to break the law, you're going to have to find a job to feed your family."

Kelly makes a living from cattle ranching, and he's a dual citizen of the U.S and Mexico who has lived in northern Mexico for most of his life. He believes that with his knowledge of the border region, and its problems, he could've helped Mitt to raise his share of the Hispanic vote.

"[Expanding] temporary work permits, would be a good idea, cause these people will go out there and do a lot of work that people who sit on their butts and draw unemployment benefits don't do," Kelly said. "They go to work in the fields picking peaches or apples." Kelly criticized moves made by Barack Obama and previous Presidents to make security controls tougher on the U.S. Mexico border, saying they break up families by discouraging undocumented immigrants from visiting relatives at home.

Before departing his home, we asked Kelly Romney if Mitt's participation in this election did anything good for the Mormon community in Colonia Juarez, and the nearby town of Casas Grandes. He thought about it for a second, and found a brief response.

"As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we've had a little more exposure so I think that people in the U.S. will understand that we're not some cult, we're an organized religion and we're Christians," Kelly said. Kelly's son, Brandon is the football coach at the local high school, the Juarez Academy. He had a similar take on Romney's candidacy.

"A lot of people still don't know anything about the Mormon Church, don't know of its beliefs or how we live," Brandon said. "I think the more they go looking at Mitt Romney they realize that we're much like everyone else. Mormons have conservative family values and we're not freaks."

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