Romney in Miami: Ich bin ein Fidelista

It’s always gratifying when political pandering on ethnic lines backfires. Even if it’s one of our own guys who ends up taking the shrapnel.

Coming soon: Mitt tells the Italian-American Anti-Defamation League he’s going to make them an offer they can’t refuse.

People chuckled when presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon raised in Michigan and elected in Massachusetts, bungled the names of Cuban-American politicians during a recent speech in Miami.

But when he mistakenly associated Fidel Castro’s trademark speech-ending slogan — Patria o muerte, venceremos! — with a free Cuba, listeners didn’t laugh. They winced.

Castro has closed his speeches with the phrase — in English, ”Fatherland or death, we shall overcome” — for decades…

Romney punctuated his speech with ”Libertad, libertad, libertad!” to show his support for freedom in Cuba. But to some, he was echoing a line from Scarface, a movie notorious for its stereotyped portrayal of Cuban immigrants.

State Rep. Rene Garcia, for one, said he was ”unimpressed.” The Hialeah Republican grimaced when Romney called the state House Speaker ”Mario Rubio” — his first name is Marco — and mispronounced the names of U.S. Reps. Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

”He used the Cuba issue way too much,” Garcia said. “I don’t want to judge a man based on one speech alone, but it bothered me that he didn’t get the names right.”

Exit question: Is it really possible for a man hovering around single digits to be “hurt” by a gaffe?