Note: this is the first of two posts spotlighting Latino businesses owners in the Granite State.
The restaurant Claudio Rodriguez has owned for the past 8 years is an institution in a predominantly Latino neighborhood just off Main Street in Nashua.
For Claudio, and for the whole community, they key issue in this election is the economy. Things were bad, but he says he sees real improvement.
The economy is getting better. The mess the last guys left, it's impossible to correct in four years. So I think Obama needs another four years - and some more Democrats in Washington – to correct the problem.
Claudio says he doesn't want that improvement to stop by electing Mitt Romney president. Governor Romney is not only on the wrong side of every Latino voter priority, but he’s the most extreme presidential candidate on another important issue to Latinos - immigration.
Romney supports even the harshest of the GOP’s immigration policies. He promised to veto the DREAM Act that allows immigrants to earn a path to citizenship by going to college or serving our country. He even called Arizona’s anti-immigrant law a ‘model’ for the nation and praised Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
When they chase immigrants around, Latinos leave the state. Restaurants and grocery stores all suffer when they leave. I used to sell $15,000 a week when I opened up. Now I'm lucky if I make $2,000.
Claudio doesn't just disagree with policies like Brewer's and Romney's - he's deeply concerned about how the extreme anti-immigrant policies Romney has endorsed would damage our economic recovery and actually threaten the promise of the American dream.
The idea that if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll be able to build a better life for your family ceases to operate when the rules are changed to disperse entire communities of hard-working people.
To Claudio, that sends a clear message:
Romney doesn't care.
But Claudio says he trusts Barack Obama:
I think the President wants to help the immigrants. His family were immigrants. I think he'll do the right thing.