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Mitt Romney Backs Away from Steve King, While Jeb Bush Prepares Immigration Book Next Year

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Yesterday, Mitt Romney’s campaign attempted to distance the candidate’s immigration views from those of outspoken anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA), even though the immigration policy positions of both are virtually the same.  Meanwhile, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush announced that he is authoring a book about the need for comprehensive immigration reform, to be released 2013.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director here at America’s Voice:

Romney doesn’t get it, and Jeb Bush does.  Romney is tethered to his far right on immigration and losing badly with Latino voters.  Yet, he refuses to pull out his Etch-a-Sketch and move to a more sensible stance on immigration reform.  Meanwhile, Jeb Bush is preparing for the bloody aftermath of the 2012 election with a book that argues for a center-right version of comprehensive immigration reform.  This will be his attempt to reposition the party with Hispanic voters and to position himself as the party’s savior in 2016.

Last week, Romney endorsed Steve King’s re-election, calling him the kind of “partner” he needs in Washington.  As leading Republican Hispanic strategist Ana Navarro tweeted at the time:

The resulting firestorm of criticism for Romney’s embrace of a Congressman who compares immigrants to dogs, cattle, and mass murderers must have spooked the Romney campaign.  Yesterday they released a statement attributed to advisor Sharon J. Castillo, saying:

As with any other presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, Governor Romney does not agree with everyone on every issue.  As president, Mitt Romney will deal with this issue [immigration] in a civil and resolute manner.

Civil and resolute?  His party’s platform, drafted by his immigration advisor Kris Kobach, refers to undocumented immigrants as “grave risks” and backs the radical notion of “self-deportation” when it says, “We will create humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily….”

The problem is that the distinction between Romney and Steve King is a matter of tone, not substance.  Romney pledged to veto the DREAM Act while campaigning in King’s Iowa district last December.  Both Romney and King share the goal of “self-deportation” for the undocumented population.  Both men are strong supporters of the “show me your papers” provisions of harsh laws in states such as Arizona and Alabama.

As Republicans worry that Romney may be blowing their chance to retake the White House, former Governor Jeb Bush seems to be preparing for just that.  Having maintained his status as one of the few remaining pro-immigration reform Republicans with a national profile, Jeb is planning to release a book in 2013 entitled Immigration Wars.  In a statement released yesterday, he said “Immigration is an important part of our country’s success and if policies are reformed, can be part of restoring and sustaining our greatness as a nation,” according to Alex Leary at the Tampa Bay Times.  Bush – who at the GOP convention made clear his disdain for Romney’s backward-looking “all-white electoral strategy” by labeling it as “stupid” – sees and embraces the future, and does so publicly.

But why is he one of the only GOP leaders who does?