Last week, Congressman Raul Labrador joined Mitt Romneys Spanish-speaking son on a trip aimed at wooing Hispanic voters in Colorado and Nevada.
Labrador says for Romney to win those swing states and Florida, he must best John McCains 31 percent share of the Hispanic vote in 2008 by 5 to 10 points.
Labrador joined Craig Romney and Hector Barreto in pitching Hispanic business groups in Lakewood, Colo., Wednesday and Las Vegas Thursday. Barreto led the Small Business Administration under President George W. Bush. The trio also spoke with Spanish- and English-language media, making the case for Romney on economic grounds.
The message is we cant continue to do the same things that Obama has been doing that brought us a higher unemployment rate, more people in poverty, more people suffering, Labrador told the Statesman as he was returning from Nevada.
The freshman congressman is part of Juntos con Romney, or Together with Romney, and appeared in a national convention video with seven other Hispanic GOP officials.
Labrador joins other top Idaho Republicans in doing more than just endorsements. Gov. Butch Otter campaigned for Romney in Nevada and attended the convention in Tampa, where he jawboned reporters and delivered a football signed by Boise State coach Chris Petersen and his players to Foxs Sean Hannity.
CLINT AND CASH
Sen. Jim Risch stumped for Romney in Iowa and Colorado. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna is an education adviser to the campaign and a rumored candidate for secretary of education.
Sen. Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson havent campaigned out-of-state but would be key allies in Congress should Romney win the White House because of their seniority on the finance and appropriations committees, respectively.
Then, theres money. Romney has raised $3.2 million from Idahoans, easily tripling the Gem State record for presidential campaigns. Romney has raised an additional $1.3 million at Idaho events from out-of-state donors.
On Aug. 3 in Sun Valley, Clint Eastwood made his first appearance for Romney, helping raise a total of $2.2 million the biggest single-day take in Idaho political history.
Romney has visited seven times in 15 months. Among his most prominent backers nationally is Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot, who contributed $1 million to the Restore our Future super PAC, a figure not counted in the hard-money total of $3.2 million.
The architect of that success is Travis Hawkes, Romneys Idaho finance chairman in 2008 and 2012. Hawkes owns the Blue & Orange Store and Pro Image and runs Aletheia Capital Advisors. Hawkes says a Romney win means Idaho will have access on issues important to the state and the West.
Gov. Romney, we all know, is analytic and results-driven, Hawkes said. Idaho has performed time and time again, whether it was delivering all 32 delegates at a critical time or having lots of successful fundraising. Idaho is on the map and on his radar. Those connections are there.
IDAHOANS TO NEVADA
Hawkes is organizing two trips to take at least 400 volunteers to get out the vote in Nevada. A Boise-based bus run will hit Reno, an Idaho Falls run Elko. Dates arent firm, but Hawkes is working on trips from each city in mid-October and the final week of the campaign.
Labrador said he has already been asked to return to Las Vegas, where he graduated high school, and plans to campaign in Colorado and Florida. Otter and Risch also expect to play surrogate again.
Two other Idahoans have important roles in the campaign. Todd Cranney, who grew up in Oakley, is deputy political director. Damond Watkins, Melaleucas vice president of corporate relations, has been on a leave of absence since May, helping raise money in the Mountain West. Watkins is also a Republican national committeeman and one of three Idahoans on the Republican National Committee.
A JOB IN THE WHITE HOUSE?
No one knows whether Luna or another Idahoan might get a call from a President-elect Romney about a job. These things are hard to plot out, Risch said. That all gets interesting after the election.
Otters campaign manager in 2006 and 2010, Debbie Field, accompanied Otter to the convention and said shes heard the talk about a fourth Idahoan in a Cabinet (Ezra Taft Benson led Agriculture under President Eisenhower, Cecil Andrus was President Carters interior secretary and Dirk Kempthorne ran Interior under George W. Bush).
Ive not spoken to him about it, but you hear other people say Butch Otter would make a great secretary of Interior, Field said. But knowing him the way I do and how much he has enjoyed having that really broad success in Idaho, Im not sure. Itd be interesting.
Otter, at 70, may be long in the tooth for a first-term pick. But Hawkes, 36, is a business whiz who has gotten close to Romney since they met five years ago on the campaign.
Could he run the Small Business Adminstration or another agency at Commerce?
Im not angling to get to D.C., but if there was something that Mitt asked me to do that I felt would help make a difference, Hawkes said, itd be pretty tough for me to tell him no.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics