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During a “Face The Nation” appearance Sunday, Republican Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham said the GOP will lose the White House in 2016 if they again embrace Mitt Romney’s failed “self-deportation” policy.
“Mitt Romney and Ann Romney did our party a great service by admitting that embracing self deportation in 2012 was their biggest mistake,” Graham said.
“You’re not going to self deport 11 million people. You’re not going to be able to do that. I’m not going to be a Republican nominee wanting to try to do that,” he reiterated.
Graham, who was one of the eight co-authors of the Senate’s bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, is the only Republican candidate in the 2016 field who still supports a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
One other Republican co-author of that bill, Marco Rubio, is also running for President in 2016. However, Rubio has lacked Graham’s courage on immigration, abandoning the Senate bill in favor of a vacuous “border security first” soundbite that does absolutely nothing to address the 11 million in a humane manner.
Graham has long been vocal about the need for Republicans to present serious policy ideas to deal with the undocumented immigrant population –- and especially about the political blowback Republicans will face if they do not.
In post-election “autopsy report” released the year after Romney’s defeat, RNC Chair Reince Priebus said the GOP needed to help pass immigration reform and that, “if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”
“In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our Party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door.”
However, that report seems to have fallen on deaf ears within the Republican Party.
While enough votes existed in the House last Congress to pass a path to citizenship, Speaker John Boehner and GOP House leaders refused to bring it to the floor for a vote, instead repeatedly passing anti-immigrant legislation handcrafted by Steve King and doubling-down on the GOP’s harsh anti-Latino and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
As Latino Decisions has noted, Romney lost Latino voters to President Barack Obama by a disastrous margin of 75-23%. Advisors from the Romney campaign — and even Romney himself — eventually acknowledged that embracing the failed “self-deportation” policy to please GOP primary voters was a mistake that eventually cost them the general election.
Now the question is, as immigration becomes the issue of the 2016 Presidential election, if Republican voters will listen to Graham’s advice and finally reject Romney’s failed policy, or face yet another rejection themselves from Latino, Asian, and immigrant voters in 2016.