Jeb Bush: Romney, GOP need to fix “insulting” tone to Latinos
Bush’s comments come after he was named a member of Romney’s Latino leadership team.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Monday said that his party’s presidential nominee Mitt Romney has boxed himself on the issue of immigration and cautioned that his party must work to improve its standing with Latino voters.
Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush, spoke to reporters at a Bloomberg LP headquarters in New York, reports The Guardian:
“Don’t just talk about Hispanics and say immediately we must have controlled borders,” he said. “It’s kind of insulting when you think about it. Change the tone would be the first thing. Second, on immigration, I think we need to have a broader approach.”
Bush said Romney had “work to do” to win over Latinos. “I think he needs to campaign in Hispanic communities, which he’s doing. I think he needs to broaden the issue out, to make it an economics issue as much as it is a rule of law … Have a broader message and have a more intense message. There is work to do, though,” he said. “I’d say that, if an objective teacher was grading where we are right now, I’d say ‘needs improvement’ – hopefully not an unfinished grade.”
But Bush admitted his is not the prevailing view among Republicans, many of whom support measures such as the Arizona law, now the subject of a supreme court challenge, requiring police to check the immigration status of people they stop and making it a criminal [offense] to be in the state as an illegal immigrant.
“I do feel a little out of step with my party on this,” he said.
Romney has begun to reach out to Latino voters since wrapping up the GOP presidential nomination, but in doing so, he’s virtually skirted the immigration issue. The former Massachusetts governor’s campaign has indicated it believes it can win over Latinos simply by keying in on the struggling economy, but count Bush, who still enjoys widespread popularity among Florida Latinos, as skeptical.
It appears Bush, who backs a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants, isn’t going to pull any punches no matter the political circumstance. It’s an indication of Bush’s stature within the party and the urgency with which he views the GOP’s brand problem with Latinos.