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Kobach Endorsement Garners A Lot of Coverage—About Romney’s Growing Problem With Latino Voters

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latinos for obamaAs we highlighted yesterday Mitt Romney proudly trumpeted his endorsement from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) –the leading architect of costly and inhumane state-based anti-immigration laws like Alabama’s and Arizona’s. 

The reaction from national media to the news was swift and unanimous, characterizing the Kobach endorsement as a political head-scratcher, especially as it stepped on the Republic National Committee’s (RNC) promotion of its Latino voter outreach plans for the 2012 cycle.

As Frank Sharry, Executive Director here at America’s Voice, said: 

So much for the vaunted Romney political operation.  The Kobach endorsement hurts Romney’s general election chances much more than it helps his primary push.  Most Republican voters simply aren’t animated by immigration this cycle, and Romney has already established his anti-immigrant bona fides.  Yet the embrace of Kobach and his dark vision for America will only continue Romney’s free fall when it comes to share of the Latino vote, making it next to impossible for him to pull off a win in November.  What this shows is that the Romney campaign has a political tin ear when it comes to outreach to Latino voters.

Though we’re usually not in the business of providing media clips for the Romney presidential campaign, we thought we’d provide a public service to see how the national press, including Spanish language press, covered yesterday’s rollout of the Kobach news.  (As evidence that this story has permeated popular culture as well, even Wonkette weighed in with a piece entitled “Romney Earns Support of Evil Arizona Immigration Law Author.”)


New York Times Editorial, “Romney’s Hard Line:” The Times editorializes, “Mitt Romney, who used to try to sound like a moderate on immigration, has dropped the pretense. On Wednesday, he proudly accepted the endorsement of the anti-immigrant activist Kris Kobach, architect of the nation’s most radical immigration crackdowns, including the unconstitutional show-your-papers laws in Arizona and Alabama.  Mr. Romney has flipped and flopped all over on immigration, but in allying himself with Mr. Kobach he has lurched toward the extremist right…In this campaign, Mr. Romney has shed all good sense. He recently said he would even veto the Dream Act, which could give legal status to blameless young immigrants who go to college or serve in the military.  On the day of the Kobach endorsement, the Romney campaign released a TV ad in Florida. Mr. Romney, who has opposed bilingual education in favor of English, ‘the language of America,’ shows he is willing, as always, to say what it takes to scrape up votes. ‘Muchas gracias,’ he tells voters at the end of the ad, which is in Spanish.”

Washington Times, “Romney’s Push Against Amnesty Makes Immigration a Defining Issue:”  Steven Dinan writes, “Mitt Romney collected the endorsements Wednesday of the architect of Arizona’s immigration-crackdown law, marking the final step on a journey that has taken him from lukewarm support of legalization to the Republican presidential field’s most ardent opponent of amnesty.  And with Mr. Romney inching closer to wrapping up the GOP’s nomination, it sets up what would be the strongest contrast ever between the two major parties’ candidates on immigration.”

Arizona Republic, “Kris Kobach, Who Helped Write SB 1070, Endorses Romney:”  Dan Nowicki writes, “Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney on Wednesday announced the endorsement of Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who is better known in Arizona and in Latino communities for the legal assistance he gave former state Sen. Russell Pearce in writing Senate Bill 1070, Arizona’s controversial 2010 immigration law…Romney’s announcement came shortly before state Reps. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, and Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson, and other community leaders and activists were expected to gather in Phoenix to blast Romney for saying that as president he would veto the Dream Act, legislation that would that would grant legal permanent residency to individuals brought to this country illegally as children if they are attending college or serving in the military.  It also came on the same day that the Republican National Committee is set to announce an expanded national Latino outreach effort.”

Miami Herald Columnist Andres Oppenheimer, “Romney Will Have Big Problem: Hispanic voters:”  In a column published in both English and Spanish, Oppenheimer writes, “Republican hopeful Mitt Romney will have two big problems if, as expected, he clinches the Republican nomination for the November election: his business background and Hispanic voters.  While most of the media focus on the first, Romney’s biggest problem will be the second.”

Univision, “Top Democrat Waves Off Romney’s Latino Appeal:”  Jordan Fabian writes, “A top Latino Democrat on Tuesday threw cold water on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s appeal to Latino voters.  In an interview with Univision News, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said that the former Massachusetts governor’s economic ideas and tough stance on illegal immigration would make him unpalatable to Latino voters…At a campaign stop on Monday, Romney said: ‘If I can convince more Latino-Americans to vote Republican, I’ll be doing pretty well pretty broadly.’  Democrats noted the irony of that statement Wednesday, pointing out that Mitt Romney accepted the endorsement of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the architects of the Arizona and Alabama immigration laws that are extremely unpopular with Latinos.”

Talking Points Memo, “GOP Muffs Up Hispanic Outreach Effort Pretty Much Immediately:”  Pema Levy writes, “When it comes to Hispanic outreach, Republicans on Wednesday took two tiny steps forward and one giant step back. The RNC announced they were ramping up their outreach efforts to Hispanic voters and Mitt Romney released an advertisement in Florida in Spanish.  But it’s hard to see either of those overshadowing Romney’s embrace of the architect of notorious Arizona and Alabama anti-immigration laws.”

Fox News Latino, “Mitt Romney Touts Endorsement by Architect of Tough State Immigration Laws:”  Elizabeth Llorente writes, “Kris Kobach, the chief architect of the country’s most controversial state immigration laws, announced his endorsement Wednesday for GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, who promptly noted it on his website and said ‘I’m so proud to earn Kris’s support.’  Kobach, who is Kansas’ Secretary of State, helped author the nation’s toughest state-level immigration laws, including those of Alabama and Arizona.”

AP, “Republicans Look For Hispanic Vote With Economic Message:” reads, (translated from Spanish by America’s Voice) “Also on Wednesday, Romney announced on his website that he received the support of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has gained notoriety at a national level for helping local and state officials write restrictive laws against undocumented immigrants, like the ones in Alabama and Arizona.”

Huffington Post, “Mitt Romney Endorsed By Architect Of Arizona Immigration Law:”  Elise Foley writes, “The endorsement, which came out the same day as a Spanish-language ad from Romney, is part of an attempt to thread the needle on immigration enforcement. Republican hardliners decry ‘amnesty’ for nearly every form of legalization of the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country…Latino voters, a rapidly-growing part of the electorate, largely support immigration reform that includes legalization — and many believe the rhetoric ‘of the Republican party is ‘outright hostile’ to them.”

Notimex, “Republican Romney Receives Support of Anti-immigrant Laws Promoter:” reads (translated from Spanish by America’s Voice), “The aspiring Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, favorite in polls, received today the support of the promoter of the anti-immigrant laws of Arizona and Alabama. He also aired a Spanish ad in a clear attempt to win over the Hispanic vote in Florida.  But in a contradicting manner, the Romney campaign team released a statement informing that the pre-candidate received the endorsement of Kansas Secretary of State, the attorney Kris Kobach.   Kobach designed the initiatives that led to the immigration laws SB 1070 in Arizona and HB 56 in Alabama, the two harshest laws approved so far to discourage illegal immigration.”

EFE, “Romney Receives Support From Author of Arizona and Alabama’s Anti-immigrant Laws:” reads (translated from Spanish by America’s Voice), “The main Republican aspirant to the candidacy for President of the United States, Mitt Romney, received today the support of Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, who was one of the authors of the anti-immigrant laws of Arizona and Alabama.”

Think Progress, “Kris Kobach, Author Of Anti-Immigrant State Laws, Backs Mitt Romney In GOP Race:”  Amanda Peterson Beadle, Marie Diamond and Ian Millhiser write, “Kobach is the anti-immigrant official who drafted Arizona and Alabama’s harmful immigration laws, and who once wrote a book opposing the anti-Apartheid boycott of South Africa. ‘With Kris on the team, I look forward to working with him to take forceful steps to curtail illegal immigration and to support states like South Carolina and Arizona that are stepping forward to address this problem,’ Romney said in press release…Kobach’s endorsement marks Romney as well outside the mainstream on immigration policy.”

Huffington Post Latino Voices Column, “Mitt Romney May Well Regret Kris Kobach’s Endorsement:”  David Leopold, past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), writes, “But by embracing Kris Kobach and the Arizona/South Carolina draconian immigration laws he authored, Romney has boxed himself into the dark, ugly corner of the fringe anti-immigrant crowd who, when it comes to immigration reform, do little more than throw around phrases like ‘amnesty’ and ‘illegal aliens.’ The subtext of these words is sinister-that America is under a Latino invasion which threatens our culture, language, and way of life.  Fixing America’s badly broken immigration system is not part of the restrictionist agenda.  What they want, pure and simple, is to put an end to immigration, period.  And since they have no serious plan to reform immigration, anti-immigrant extremists like Kobach, with whom Romney is now squarely aligned, rely on ethnically charged words and innuendo.  While it may help him in South Carolina, Romney’s lean to the extreme right on immigration may cost him dearly down the road should he ultimately become the Republican nominee.”