Arizona immigration law author gives Romney a “death hug”
Former state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) called Mitt Romney’s immigration enforcement “identical to mine.” (Flickr: Gage Skidmore)
As Mitt Romney begins to pivot toward a general election match up with President Obama, he’s looking to keep the focus off some of his tough statements on immigration, which have hurt his standing with Latino voters, and target the president.
On Thursday, we received a reminder that may be tough to do. Former Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce (R), who authored his state’s controversial SB 1070 immigration crackdown law, gave Romney a so-called death hug this week. Felicia Sonmez of The Washington Post caught up with Pearce Tuesday, who is running again for office:
In an interview Tuesday night after a tea party dinner in Gilbert, Ariz., Pearce – who, in part due to his authorship of the SB 1070 law, late last year became the first Arizona legislator to be ousted from office in a recall election – described the former Massachusetts governor’s stand on illegal immigration as the same as his own.
“His immigration policy is identical to mine,” Pearce said. “Attrition by enforcement. It’s identical to mine – enforce the laws. We have good laws, just enforce them.”
Remember that Romney called Arizona’s immigration enforcement laws a “model” for the nation and that he embraced “self-deportation”? If you didn’t, now you do.
Pearce’s comments illustrate the potential harm Romney did to himself during the primary season on the immigration issue, which Democrats have effectively used to peg Romney as antithetical to the interests of Latinos.
The former senator is the type of person Romney would like to avoid in the general election season. Pearce became the poster boy for Arizona’s immigration law and was recalled by voters in November in what was largely a referendum on SB 1070.
The issue isn’t going away either: the Supreme Court is scheduled to begin a hearing on the constitutionality of the SB 1070 law on April 25.