During the GOP nomination battle, Mitt Romney couldn’t talk enough about his anti-immigrant views. He vowed to veto the DREAM Act; called Arizona’s immigrant-crackdown a “model for the nation”; touted support for “self-deportation“; and courted hard-liners like Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio.
But the game has changed for Mitt Romney, and those anti-immigrant views he wielded so forcefully have become a huge political problem for the GOP nominee. The President’s directive to protect DREAM Act students from deportation and the Supreme Court ruling on SB 1070 have put the immigration issue at the forefront of the presidential contest. That’s proving to be disastrous for Romney, as evidenced by a slew of recent headlines and commentary. It’s not only the headlines, but the range of notable media outlets that are reporting it, including Time Magazine, Politico, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, ABC News, Salon, and The Daily Beast. It’s also being written about by influential writers, from liberal columnist/blogger Markos Moulitsas to conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, to one of the purveyors of DC’s conventional wisdom, columnist Dan Balz.
See for yourself:
Mitt Romney’s immigration problem, Washington Post by Dan Balz:
Mitt Romney has had a lot to say about immigration the past few days, but what he has said adds up to a giant question mark. Rarely has a candidate had as many opportunities to clarify or recalibrate his position on a vital issue, and rarely has a candidate passed up those opportunities as consistently as the former governor.
Immigration thorn for Mitt, The Hill by Markos Moulitsas:
Romney is trapped between his xenophobic nativist base and the political realities of winning battleground states with significant Latino populations — from Arizona, Colorado and Nevada to Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.
Arizona immigration ruling complicates Republicans’ strategy with Hispanics, Washington Post by Peter Wallsten:
The quandary for Romney and the GOP is clear from recent polling. The Arizona law is very popular with whites and independent voters, according to data from the Pew Research Center, while many GOP strategists think their party has little chance for success in battlegrounds such as Colorado, Nevada and Virginia if Romney doesn’t win close to 40 percent of Hispanics.
The tension among Republicans over immigration has been a years-long struggle and became a point of contention during the GOP primaries, when Romney sought to win over skeptical conservative voters by attacking leading rivals for their more liberal immigration views.
GOP grasps for ideas on immigration, Politico by Scott Wong:
Congressional Republicans are everywhere and nowhere on immigration. Pulled between their get-tough conservative base and the reality that adopting such a hard line could cost them dearly with Hispanics in November, they’re doing the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” equivalent of phoning a friend — party standard-bearer Mitt Romney — for help.
But Romney, so far, doesn’t seem to have a clear answer, either.
Swing state Latinos could end Mitt Romney’s White House dream, Los Angeles Times by David Horsey
It is becoming increasingly difficult for Mitt Romney to climb out of the hole he has dug for himself with Latino voters, and, as a result, that hole could turn into a grave for his presidential campaign.
Romney plays immigration dodgeball, Salon by Alex Seitz-Wald
In two weeks of news cycles dominated by immigration news, Mitt Romney’s campaign has managed to say almost nothing about immigration.
Mitt Romney’s Achilles Heel: Immigration, The Daily Beast By Andrew Romano:
It’s hard to recall another presidential candidate who adopted a campaign strategy as self-defeating as Romney’s immigration muddle.
<On Arizona Immigration, a Supreme Court Rules, and a Candidate Hides, ABC News by Matt Negrin:
Romney’s silence on the specifics of the controversial immigration law is remarkable for the presidential nominee of the GOP, a party that has long made immigration policy a source of pride even if a few factions within it believe reform should be pursued in different ways.
Arizona Ruling Deepens Romney’s Immigration Muddle, TIME by Alex Altman
The more interesting dynamic following the court’s decision was the scrupulous evasion from Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, which is caught between the hawkishness of the Republican Party’s conservative base and the political imperative not to alienate Latino voters.
And, then, there’s this Washington Post column by conservative-leaning Kathleen Parker: Romney may soon be feeling the Arizona heat
What we have here is a sticky wicket.
And no one is in greater need of Goo Gone than Mitt Romney, who has said that Arizona’s law is a model for the rest of the nation. Not only has that law been deemed at least partly unconstitutional, but Romney is now positioned to be associated with profiling. Not the best way to court the Hispanic vote. Worse, if Arizona and other similarly minded states begin to apply the equal-treatment template across races and ethnicities, he’ll have everybody mad at him.
Not that the Arizona law is his fault, obviously. But angry people will pick the easiest target, and the Obama campaign will make sure those dots are connected. One thing is for certain: Romney can’t change his mind. He’s stuck with a position that, though appealing to Arizonans and others who are justifiably angry with our inert (inept) federal government, is profoundly offensive to our American sense of fairness.
That led to this headline at AMERICAblog by John Aravosis, linking to Parker’s column: Immigration is becoming a bigger and bigger problem for Romney
And the campaign is just getting underway…