David Rivera threatens Romney on immigration
“I’m not willing to participate in any Hispanic outreach efforts without seeing more details on a permanent solution for these kids”
Rep. David Rivera, an influential and controversial South Florida Republican, ripped his own party’s presidential nominee Mitt Romney on immigration, saying his position could turn away Latinos who might otherwise be willing to support him.
BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins has the story, which is worth a read:
“I think Hispanic voters expect more details as to what that ‘permanent solution’ might be that he keeps talking about,” Rivera said, referring to Romney’s pledge to fix the immigration system while in office.
Romney outlined his immigration proposals at a speech last month to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), but he remained vague about how he would address certain children who were brought to the U.S. undocumented at a young age, otherwise known as DREAMers. Rivera has introduced legislation that would allow some DREAMers to stay in he country legally.
Rivera, who isn’t a member of Romney’s Hispanic leadership team, said that he wouldn’t be willing to support the candidate until he comes out with a detailed proposal to address those youth, suggesting that other conservative-leaning Latinos could do the same.
“I’m not willing to participate in any Hispanic outreach efforts without seeing more details on a permanent solution for these kids,” he said.
He said Obama is winning the fight for Hispanic voters because Romney hasn’t given his Latino supporters anything to work with.
“Right now, his Hispanic supporters and Hispanic surrogates don’t have the ammunition to combat the Obama attacks on him,” Rivera said.
Immigration is widely seen as the major source of the animus between Republicans and Latinos. It’s not the top issue for Latino voters, but the debate over immigration has in many ways become a proxy for whether a politician is friendly to Latinos. And on that front, Romney has struggled.
Rivera’s message has been echoed by other Latino Republican activists and officials for some time. Republicans, including some on Romney’s team, understand that losing Latino voters by a wide margin to Obama could dramatically narrow the GOP candidate’s path to victory in November and imperil the party in the long-term.
But what makes Rivera’s comments even more interesting is that he is a close friend of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has endorsed Romney and has served as a surrogate for Romney on the immigration issue. The two are so close that they co-own a home in Tallahassee, where they served together in the state House.
But is Rivera’s threat legitimate and is he the one to deliver this message?
The congressman, elected in 2010, gained a reputation as a major power-broker in the Miami area during his time in the state legislature. The Miami-Dade area contains a critical mass of reliably-Republican Cuban-American voters that any Republican needs to stand a chance of winning Florida’s crucial 29 electoral votes.
But on the other hand, Rivera has seen his star fizzle over the past two years He has been dogged by investigations into his personal and campaign finances. Miami-Dade County investigators ended their probe, but the FBI and IRS continue to investigate Rivera.
As a result, the congressman has seen his influence wane in presidential politics. Rivera campaigned with Newt Gingrich during the January Florida primary with the hopes of making inroads with Cuban-American voters. But Gingrich lost Florida and Romney trounced his opponents among Cuban voters, taking nearly 60 percent of Cuban votes.
So while Rivera’s message might be the one Romney needs to hear, it’s not that he is the most effective messenger.