The Republican Party’s embrace of anti-immigrant extremism was on full display this past weekend in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Among the loudest voices was none other than that of Kris Kobach, who is an endorser and advisor to Romney on immigration issues. Kobach is also the champion of the series of state-based anti-immigration laws in states such as Arizona and Alabama that show the real world consequences, costs, and impracticality of Romney’s stated “self-deportation” immigration policy goal.
Kris Kobach let his true extremist colors shine at CPAC last week.
While the more moderate calls for immigration reform were met with boos, Kris Kobach’s extremist rhetoric received loud support from a captivated audience. “If you want to create a job for a U.S. citizen tomorrow, deport an illegal alien today,” said Kobach. Simultaneously, the Kansas Secretary of State reasserted his support for Arizona and Alabama “papers, please” laws that illustrate the real world consequences, costs, and impracticality of Romney’s stated “self-deportation” immigration policy goal. Kobach’s vision is expected to result in an $11 billion price tag to Alabama.
Unlike those at CPAC, the Romney campaign, which was initially enthusiastic about Kobach’s support, has distanced themselves since (seemingly) from Kansas’ Secretary of State. But that’s not the story Kobach tells. In an interview with Talking Points Memo, Kobach said, “Comparing my involvement from 2008 to 2012, I’ve been much more involved.” In response to the Romney campaigns’ relative silence with regard to Kobach’s role, he said, “I think you’ll find that most presidential campaigns are kind of hard for reporters to get to comment on all of their various endorsers…So the notion that a reporter doesn’t get a phone call returned, shouldn’t be taken as an implication of much of anything, really.”
Perhaps the Romney campaign is catching on to one thing: that aligning yourself with extremist allies has potential to do serious harm with general election voters.
Also in the news around Kris Kobach today: the authors of “We’re With Nobody,” the tell-all book about the opposition research side of campaigning, have identified Kris Kobach as one of their main subjects. According to the authors, Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian, Kobach received “significant funding from a notoriously racist group” when running for the state’s 3rd congressional district in 2004. The authors said they were talking about Kobach because he could assume a leadership role if Romney is elected, and they wanted people to know exactly who he is. Said Huffman, “Michael and I are always excited to point the finger at racists…We were pleased, therefore, to discover that the Kansas candidate was also linked to the leader of a radical group that denigrated the region’s growing Latino population.”
This isn’t the first time Kobach’s motivations and associations have been questioned, and it certainly won’t be the last.