Report: “How Mitt Romney lost Latinos”
It’s a tough headline for Mitt Romney and Republicans hoping to reverse the party’s fortunes with Latino voters. (Screenshot: Politico)
A Politico report published Wednesday contains a headline Mitt Romney didn’t want heading into the Puerto Rico primary: “How Mitt Romney lost Latinos.”
The piece sums up Romney’s missteps when it comes to courting Latino voters, the nation’s fastest-growing voting bloc, and how it could prove decisive in November’s presidential election, should he become the nominee.
Here’s the top of Politico’s story:
Republicans had high hopes of eroding President Barack Obama’s dominance among Hispanic voters in 2012 — so great was Latino frustration with Obama’s tough deportation policy and his failure to fulfill the promesa of immigration reform.
Instead, with eight months to go before Election Day, Obama is on pace to match the 76 percent support he got from Latino voters in 2008 — and the GOP may be undoing a decade of work to attract Hispanics, thanks to its election-year rhetorical sprint to the right on immigration, a charge led by front-runner Mitt Romney.
Romney — who needs to bolster his support among tea-party conservatives — hasn’t merely embraced the controversial Alabama and Arizona immigration laws, as most in his party have. He’s sought the advice of the controversial co-author of the bills, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who consults with the campaign as an unpaid adviser and whose endorsement has been touted in conservative primary states such as South Carolina and Arizona.
More important, Romney has publicly espoused Kobach’s polarizing philosophy of “self-deportation,” the idea of making life so inhospitable to illegal immigrants they’ll flee rather than face legal proceedings.
The report details Kobach’s recent wide-ranging interview with Univision and how it shined light on the suspicion with which many Latinos view him:
It’s no surprise that Kobach’s ascent has been closely followed — with relish — by Obama’s campaign, which had faced a tough path to exceeding his 2008 support in states such as Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and even North Carolina to offset the anticipated loss of white voters.
In a recent interview with Kobach — a Yale Law graduate who seems to genuinely enjoy the give-and-take of the immigration debate — a Univision reporter raised a core objection to the laws: Innocent people can be hassled by law enforcement because they look like illegal immigrants.
“Part of the problem might be that a person like you would have no problem. A person like me may have to prove all the time that we’re here legally,” Luis Megid told Kobach. “And that creates an uncomfortable feeling.”
Kobach is polite but unapologetic. He told POLITICO he opposes profiling and accused opponents of the law of secretly advocating “open borders.”
And in a sign of President Obama’s confidence of winning over Latinos, Politico republished the president’s now-famous quote about the Republicans’ self-inflicted wounds with Latino voters:
“We may just run clips of the Republican debates verbatim. We won’t even comment on them,” Obama told a gathering of Latino journalists earlier this year. “We’ll just run those in a loop on Univision and Telemundo, and people can make up their own minds.”
Romney adviser Alberto Martinez criticized the report on Twitter, saying it was an attempt by Democrats to distract from faults Latinos see in Obama’s record.