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The news that former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) has endorsed Mitt Romney for president is a missed opportunity to shift the Republican Party’s direction on immigration.
Before Florida’s primary earlier this year, Bush cautioned the Republican field about its continued mishandling of the immigration issue:
That could be an issue in the general election that plays out in a negative way for Republican candidates. In swing-states, Hispanic voters are increasingly the swing voters, and if you, by your tone more than anything else, send a signal that ‘you’re not wanted on my team’ — and I’m not saying any candidate has done that — you could alienate voters that could be part of the winning formula.
The New York Times reported in January that Bush made it “clear in television interviews and in conversations with friends that he is troubled by the sharpening tenor of the race, particularly on immigration. He voiced his concern directly to Mr. Romney, two people close to him said, urging him to moderate his oratory and views to avoid a collapse of support among Hispanic voters in the general election.”
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, had this to say in response to Bush’s endorsement of Romney:
Say it ain’t so, Jeb. It’s bad enough that Florida Republicans who have fought bravely for immigration reform, such as Mel Martinez, Carlos Gutierrez, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart, embraced and endorsed Romney. Now you, too? Don’t look past your disagreement with Romney’s immigration stance. You know in your heart that Mitt has cemented the Republican Party’s anti-Latino brand and you are one of the few people in the party who has the standing and guts to publicly challenge him on it. But instead you endorse him. It’s a sad day for those of us who once looked up to Jeb Bush for leadership on an issue that no longer seems to have any leaders in the Republican Party.