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GOP Quotes on the Need for the Party to Change Course on Immigration

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Updated on April 11, 2012 | Download PDF here.

George H. W. Bush during a 1980 presidential debate, “We’re doing two things: we’re creating a whole society of really honorable decent family-loving people that are in violation of the law and second we’re exacerbating relations with Mexico. The answer to your question is much more fundamental than whether they attend Houston schools, it seems to me. I don’t wanna see a whole thing of 6- and 8-year-old kids being made one totally uneducated and made to feel they’re living outside the law. Let’s address ourselves to the fundamentals. These are good people, strong people.”

In the same debate, Ronald Reagan said, “Rather than making them – or talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit and then while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back, they go back. And they can cross – and open the border both ways by understanding their problems.”


Former Secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush and Republican Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridgesaid at Georgetown University on March 1, 2001, “At some point in time you’ve got to say to yourself, ‘We’re not sending 12 million people home.’  Let’s get over it…so let’s just figure out a way to legitimize their status, create a new system, and I think that will add more to border security than any number of fences we can put across the border.”


Former Bush-Cheney Campaign Chairman and RNC head Ken Mehlman in Politico on May 1, 2007:  “Reaching out to Hispanics is critical to our future. The fastest-growing, and most conservative, segment of the population are natural Republicans. The question is whether we will reach out and welcome these new voters into our ranks. While I don’t yet speak Spanish, there is one phrase I memorized as Republican National Committee chairman: “Mi partido es su partido.” (“My party is your party.”)”


On April 27, 2008, then U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, Chris Christie at a church forum said, “being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime…The whole phrase of ‘illegal immigrant’ connotes that the person, by just being here, is committing a crime…Don’t let people make you believe that that’s a crime that the U.S. attorney’s office should be doing something about.”

William Kristol on FOX News Sunday, November 9, 2008, said that “There’s been a lot of self-inflicted damage by Republicans. Hispanics—let’s take one group. Some political scientist did some calculations and told me that if Hispanics had voted in 2008 as they had done in 2004, McCain would have carried Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico. Totally self-inflicted wound by House Republicans, thinking, ‘Hey, let’s be really tough on immigration and let’s demagogue and let’s not work with President Bush to pass legislation.’”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the New York Times Magazine in an interview published November 13, 2008: “I was a major proponent of the temporary-worker program and finding some way to normalize the status for these people. I think that it goes to the core of who we are. I hear some people talking about, well, maybe there should be a timeout on legal immigration, check your last name and see whether or not it came over on the Mayflower. Improving the economic conditions that would allow people who are clearly ambitious — if they’re going to walk across the desert to get here, they’re ambitious people — improving the capability of those people to stay home and contribute is the last piece of that puzzle. Comprehensive immigration reform is the one thing I wish we’d been able to do, and it’s going to have to be done, and I hope it’s done soon.”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), in the Washington Post on November 14, 2008: “If the administration wants to move forward with immigration again, I stand ready to do that.”

Karl Rove in Newsweek on November 15, 2008 said, “Hispanics dropped from 44 percent Republican in 2004 to 31 percent in 2008. The GOP won’t be a majority party if it cedes the young or Hispanics to Democrats. Republicans must find a way to support secure borders, a guest-worker program and comprehensive immigration reform that strengthens citizenship, grows our economy and keeps America a welcoming nation. An anti-Hispanic attitude is suicidal. As the party of Lincoln, Republicans have a moral obligation to make our case to Hispanics, blacks and Asian-Americans who share our values. Whether we see gains in 2010 depends on it.”

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), in CBS News on November 18, 2008: “We have a very, very serious problem.  It was the tone of the debate.  The tone of some Republicans was offensive to the vast majority of Hispanics.”

Frank Guerra, Hispanic media adviser for the McCain campaign, said in Hispanic Business on November 19, 2008, that Hispanic Republicans, “were turned off by the [Republican] discourse,” and “the way Hispanics were being demonized.” Mr. Guerra said that Republicans need to address their immigration discourse and stance and “it needs to be done in a way that does not alienate Hispanics who are here and who are voting…Because if they don’t turn that sentiment around, they will continue to get this kind of low margin in the vote.”

Hector Barajas, communications director for the California Republican Party said in Hispanic Business on November 19, 2008, “Immigration is a very important issue for Latinos. Every Latino, whether you are a U.S. citizen, whether you are the second generation, we all tend to know someone who has gone through the immigration maze.”

Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah, Member of Virginia Commission on Immigration, and “staunchly anti-illegal immigration” Member of House of Delegates), in the Washington Post on November 24, 2008: “I can’t totally disagree that some people are leery of the issue, because maybe it wasn’t the wedge issue that some thought it would be.”

Jim Harper, from the Cato Institute on November 24, 2008: “The political prescription going forward is clear. Anti-immigrant groups have vocal cords, but they don’t have the voters. There is little risk to Democrats from squelching “internal enforcement” programs like E-Verify. E-Verify reeks of anti-immigrant animus, and it burdens the business sector with time-wasting red tape.”

“[S]top being [misguided] on immigration. We are alienating huge parts of the electorate, we are turning our primaries into single issue ‘hate’ contests and ignoring the single fastest growing bloc of voters in the country,” said a Republican consultant with decades of experience to National Journal’s Charlie Cook on December 2, 2008.

Rick Davis, Chief Executive Officer of the 2008 John McCain for President campaign said at a 2008 post election panel on December 11, 2008, the Republican Party has “got to change its attitude versus Hispanics” in order to win in the future. Given the “really crazy things said on talk radio” in the name of the GOP, Davis said, “I don’t blame Hispanics for not voting for us.  California, Colorado, Texas, Florida – we can’t win in these states any more.”

Colin Powell said in an interview with CNN on December 11, 2008, “I think the party has to take a hard look at itself,” Powell said in the interview, which was taped Wednesday. “There is nothing wrong with being conservative. There is nothing wrong with having socially conservative views — I don’t object to that. But if the party wants to have a future in this country, it has to face some realities. In another 20 years, the majority in this country will be the minority.”

Alberto Gonzales said in an interview with Ruben Navarrette on December 12, 2008, “The Republican Party has lost ground in attracting Hispanics and, given the tremendous growth of the Hispanic population, it presents a real challenge. … Obviously, the tone has to change on certain issues like immigration.”

President George W. Bush in Politico on December 16, 2008 spoke about the need to rebuild the GOP brand.  He said the party needs to embrace reform and broaden the party’s outreach, especially to Hispanics. Looking back at the heated immigration debate of 2006, Bush said Republicans came off as “anti-Latino.” 


While talking about a meeting with Senator John McCain, Senator John Ensign (R-Nev.) raised the topic of the GOP and Latinos to The Hill on January 7, 2009.  “It was discussed big time,” said Ensign. “We have to reach out to Hispanics. We need to go on Hispanic media much more.”

President George W. Bush as quoted by the Washington Post on January 12, 2009, said in an interview with “Fox News Sunday” the previous day that “[The Republican Party] should be open-minded about big issues like immigration reform, because if we’re viewed as anti-somebody — in other words, if the party is viewed as anti-immigrant — then another fellow may say, “Well, if they’re against the immigrant, they may be against me.”

President George W. Bush told the Associated Press on January 12, 2009 that the divisive immigration debate created an image of his party that was “Republicans don’t like immigrants.”

Grover Norquist responded to National Journal in a Q&A on January 15, 2009, when they asked how the right-of-center media structure is developing, and the role of blogs.  He responded by saying “I think that the radio talk shows that were so helpful for the center-right in 1993, ’94, ’95 became destructive in some ways in 1998 with the focus on [Bill] Clinton’s sex life. I think they did something similar to us in the last decade with this focus on immigration. Beating up on immigrants is endlessly fascinating on radio talk shows and does not move a single vote for a Republican candidate anywhere in the country. In fact, it loses you votes.” National Journal followed up asking if Republicans are going to move back toward [his] position on immigration.  “I think that it’s necessary. Can I guarantee it? No. However, the history of this is clear in terms of elections. In 2006, we ran as the party that is going to deport your relatives and build a wall. How did that work out?”

John Feehery, former top adviser to then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, said to the Washington Post on January 28, 2009, “I think we’re becoming a regional party.  It seems like we only want to appeal to Southerners. We seem too far to the right, and I think we need to have a better understanding of principles that appeal to people in all 50 states.”

Richard Nadler, the late conservative commentator and president of the America’s Majority Foundation, analyzed the role of immigration in ninety competitive House races in 2008 found that: “Immigration was a wedge issue benefiting the Democratic Party, but not the GOP.”  Nadler also wrote in National Review on February 23, 2009, “At some point, conservatives must reflect on how many allies, and how many issues, we are willing to sacrifice in a fey and futile attempt to get field workers, busboys, and nannies out of the country. The steady drumbeat of restrictionist defeat invites — no, requires — conservatives to revisit a concept we have glibly reviled: comprehensive immigration reform. The relevant question is no longer whether we want it, but what we want from it: what forms of border security, crime control, and employment verification. Every hour we postpone a border reform that respects the interests of employers and Hispanics, our entire agenda suffers.”

Mitt Romney, former presidential candidate and Governor of Massachusetts, told The Hill on April 1, 2009, that he believes that one way to attract more minorities to the GOP is to pass immigration reform before the next election, saying the issue becomes demagogued by both parties on the campaign trail.  “We have a natural affinity with Hispanic-American voters, Asian-American voters,” he said.

Mathew Dowd, advisor and strategist to President George W. Bush said in the New York Times, May 26, 2009, “[if Republicans] don’t get back to a place where they are getting roughly 40 percent net of the Hispanic vote, there is no way they can ever win.”

Dan Bartlett, former President George W. Bush’s White House Communications Director, said in an interview with the Texas Tribune on November 3, 2009, that “based on the previous debate we had on immigration under George W. Bush nationally, and based on where candidates in the Republican Party position themselves statewide and locally, is that we are handing over politics, the power of seat of government.”  He continued, “I think we are taking positions on issues, such as on the immigration debate, that is setting the [GOP] back many many years.”

During his mayoral election acceptance speech, Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated on November 4, 2009, that “[he’ll] offer more immigrant adults English-language classes so they can fully contribute to our economy. And [he’ll] continue to fight for real immigration reform in Washington because Nueva York es una ciudad donde adoremos todos las culturas.”

Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), stated on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on November 9, 2009 that “the very divisive rhetoric of the immigration debate set a very bad tone for our brand as Republicans…there were voices within our party, frankly, which if they continue with that kind of rhetoric, anti-Hispanic rhetoric, that so much of it was heard, we’re going to be relegated to minority status.”


Sarah Palin said in an interview with Glenn Beck on FOX News January 13, 2010, that “immigrants built this country and I think Republicans, conservatives are at fault when we allow the other side to capture this immigration issue and try toturn this issue into something negative for Republicans.  I think [Republicans] need to recognize that immigrants built this great country, there are rules to follow if you want to be apart of this great country and let’s make sure people are following those rules, but let’s welcome this.”

A senior unnamed Republican aide told Politico on January 15, 2010, that “The whole reason some people on the Democratic side view immigration as a great issue is because there is a side of the Republican Party that frankly cannot help itself on the issue.  They go ballistic, and it comes across as anti-Hispanic — that’s not what they intend, but that’s the way it is perceived.”

Ed Gillespie, former RNC Chairman, told the Washington Post in February 19, 2010 that Bush received 54 percent of the non-Hispanic white vote in 2000 and finished in a dead heat with Al Gore.  Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) got 55 percent of that vote in 2008 and lost the election by seven percentage points. “If the current voting percentages among white, black, Asian and Hispanic stay the same, the Republican nominee will lose by 14 points in 2020. We have to be more competitive.”

Michael Steele, RNC Chairman, in the Washington Post in February 19, 2010:  the vitriol on immigration “harkens back, quite frankly, to the Southern strategy that the Republicans embraced in the 1960s, causing black Republicans to abandon the party.  A lot of stuff got miswired and screwed up in that debate. A lot of hotheads jumped in,” he said of the immigration fight. “We have an obligation and an opportunity to reengage in that discussion and do a lot better than we did the last time.”

Former Congressman Henry Bonilla (R-TX) in the Washington Post on February 21, 2010: “”If you don’t go out and bring more Hispanics to our party, the math isn’t there to win, no matter what the other side does…If they’re too blind to recognize that, it’s their own selves doing them in.”

Republican consultant Whit Ayers in the Washington Post on February 21, 2010: “The numbers don’t lie.  If Republicans don’t do better among Hispanics, we’re not going to be talking about how to get Florida back in the Republican column, we’re going to be talking about how not to lose Texas.”

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) said in a press conference in New Hampshire on March 30, 2010, “I think it’s a good time to do [immigration reform]… I’ve always felt that we need a few basic things.  First, we need to secure the southern border… Secondly, we need to make sure employers higher people who are here legally… Thirdly, we need a guest worker program… Fifthly, we need to address the fact that there’s some, who knows how many, 12 to 15 million people who are here illegally.  Without giving them a path to citizenship, we’ve got to give them a capacity to come out from behind the bushes and be here in visible ways.”

Meg Whitman, GOP candidate for California Governor in 2010 said at a conference in Texas on April 12, 2010, “My view is that the immigration discussion, the rhetoric the Republican Party uses, is not helpful; it’s not helpful in a state with the Latino population we have. We as a party are going to have to make some changes, how we think about immigration, and how we talk about immigration.”

Republican Rep. Connie Mack (FL-14) said in a Washington Post op ed on May 28, 2010, “[T]rampling on the rights of some Americans to protect the majority conflicts with the values our nation was founded upon.”  He continued, “Conservatives’ most important responsibility is to remember to protect freedom, liberty and the rights of every citizen. The Arizona immigration law doesn’t do that, and that’s why I oppose it.”

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of the News Corporation, spoke out on June 24, 2010, saying, “This country can and must enact new immigration policies that fulfill our employment needs, provide a careful pathway to legal status for undocumented residents, and end illegal immigration.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg commented on June 24, 2010 that “I can’t think of any ways to destroy this country quite as direct and impactful as our immigration policy.  We educate the best and the brightest, and then we don’t give them a green card.”

New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie told ABC’s “This Week” on July 24, 2010 that “The president and the Congress have to step up to the plate, they have to secure our borders, and they have to put forward a commonsense path to citizenship for people…States are going to struggle all over the country with this problem [until President Obama and Congress craft an immigration reform measure], and so is federal law enforcement, who doesn’t have the resources to do it effectively.”

Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told Politico on July 26, 2010 that “Republicans see a short-term benefit because of the popularity of the Arizona law. But then, a lot of Republicans realize, long term, this is not a winner for the party to take a position that is so distant from the largest-growing demographic.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on ABC’s This Week July 26, 2010, “[immigration] is a federal issue that should be handled by the feds and should be fixed finally. As a former United States attorney, I had to deal with these issues for seven years, and we simply didn’t have the resources to deal with them effectively.  So the president and the Congress have to step up to the plate, they have to secure our borders, and they have to put forward a commonsense path to citizenship for people.  And until they do that, states are going to struggle all over the country with this problem, and so is federal law enforcement, who doesn’t have the resources to do it effectively.”

Florida Governor Charlie Crist said in a US Senate debate on September 16, 2010 that, “I also believe that we do have to have a pathway to citizenship — we are a nation of immigrants. Senator Mel Martinez, Senator John McCain, even President Bush agreed this was the right way to go.”

Governor Charlie Crist also told Huffington Post on September 27, 2010, “Studies show that 11-14 million people are in the country as non-citizens, and if we are willing to have a thoughtful, reasonable pathway to citizenship — earning citizenship — then those 11-14 million people can become productive, participating members of the American economy, paying the payroll taxes, helping Social Security going forward, and making America stronger financially.”

Jennifer Rubin, conservative columnist for the Washington Post said on December 6, 2010, “I believe that we need to enforce our borders, but that it is impractical, unwise and damaging to our national character to toss out those who are already here.”

Michael Gerson, conservative columnist for the Washington Post said on December 6, 2010, “[Republicans] have no intention of sharing the honor of citizenship with anyone called illegal – even those who came as children, have grown up as neighbors and would be willing to give their lives in the nation’s cause.”

Stephen A. Nuño, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University, said on December 10, 2010, “It is said that the Dream Act is an abomination of the law, that it rewards illegal behavior and that it encourages more people to come here nefariously.  Yet, these arguments are inconsistent with conservativism because they ignore the convention of human migration, the nature of humans seeking a better life for themselves, and most importantly, it is a contradiction to persist in maintaining a society of citizens stuck in the shadows of society… We must work to integrate these people into society so they can be productive members of this great country from outside of the shadows.  These people have worked in the face of great obstacles to be good citizens, to get an education and they only seek a chance to further their contribution.”

Mike Murphy, a senior Republican strategist who worked on former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman’s campaign for California governor in 2010, told Washington Post on March 27, 2011 that the reason his side has struggled to make inroads with Hispanics is “mostly driven by the fact that too many Republicans have attempted to use illegal immigration as a wedge issue.” Continuing, he said it is a “base-driven strategy that has injected red-hot rhetoric into our party’s message on immigration” and “primary politics have made the situation even worse.”


Rick Santorum, former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, told the Des Moines Register on April 25, 2011, “I think legal immigration is a good thing for America and I think we have to have a policy that’s a lot smarter than it is right now. We shouldn’t have lotteries, we should have policies that say we want to bring people into this country who want to come to be a value-add to the country. … For example, we have a whole bunch of folks who are in this country on student visas and are getting a tremendous education here. From my perspective, for those kids who do particularly well, we should be offering those kids an opportunity, give them a path to citizenship. We want to keep those good minds here that have been educated here. If they can contribute to the economy of this country, we should at least give them the option to be able to stay here.”

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said at an event at the National Press Club in August 25, 2011, “”Who in the Republican Party was the genius that said that now that we have identified the fastest-growing demographic in America, let’s go out and alienate it?…Republicans have got to get off this goofiness…Ronald Reagan said, ‘Tear down that wall.’ Tom Tancredo said, ‘Build that wall.’ Who’s right?”

Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, in the National Journal, August 25, 2011, “The problem with the tea party is it’s missing chips and salsa…It’s going to be very difficult to win critical swing states without engaging the Hispanic electorate.”

Utah’s Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, in the National Journal, August 25, 2011, “The only voice you hear from the Republican Party is a shrill, ‘Round them all up and take them home.’ It’s hurting our efforts to attract [independents], including the Latino vote.”

Conservative syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette, in The Statesman in September 25, 2011, “The Republican Party has dug itself an awfully deep hole with Latino voters. And every time a Republican talks about immigration, the hole gets a little deeper.  That includes nearly all the 2012 Republican presidential candidates.”

Republican Political Consultant Mike Murphy on Meet the Press, October 2, 2011, “If we want to beat Obama, especially in those western states where the Hispanic vote is exploding in size, 43 percent increase in the Latino population in 10 years, we’ve got to do better with that vote…if we have an ax fight over immigration in the Republican primary, we’re going to do ourselves a lot of harm.”

Republican strategist Ana Navarro in Politico, October 4, 2011, “We have a unique opportunity to capitalize on a broken promise to the Latino community, and instead of capitalizing on that, we are fighting over who is tougher and meaner and stricter when it comes to immigration. We’re completely missing the boat.”

Ryan Call, chairman of the Republican Party of Colorado, in the New York Times, October 19, 2011, “The discussion of creating electrified fences from sea to sea is neither prudent nor helpful… they’re throwing red meat around in an attempt to mollify a particular aspect of the Republican base.”

Robert Ramirez, a Republican state representative from Colorado, in the New York Times, October 19, 2011, “We can’t pretend the Latino vote doesn’t exist…it’s time we became the party of inclusion.”

Republican strategist and former advisor to ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Adam Mendelsohn told the Associated Press, October 23, 2011, “The fundamental question will be whether the economic concerns of the Latino community are so severe that they are less critical of anti-immigrant positioning by the Republican party…If the conventional wisdom is that Romney won the nomination because he beat up Perry on immigration, that’s a narrative that will alienate Latinos.’”

Republican strategist, Javier Ortiz, on NPR, October 24, 2011, “How they are going to secure that 35 to 40 percent of the Hispanic vote if they are going to continue that kind of rhetoric that we are hearing now on immigration?”

Robert Ramirez, a Republican state representative from Colorado, in USA Today, on October 27, 2011, “It’s always been, ‘Here’s my candidate, and here’s a mariachi band. So we’re good, right?'”

Ryan Call, state party chairman for the Colorado Republican Committee, in USA Today, October 27, 2011, “The Republican candidate for president needs to win an important segment of the Hispanic vote. And part of determining the … party’s position is going to come as a result of an ongoing conversation with that community.”

Mark Shurtleff, Republican Utah Attorney General, in the New York Times, on October 28, 2011, “The rhetoric I hear from the Republican candidates, and that state legislatures that are passing enforcement-only provisions, are both damaging the economy. We ought not to be doing things to hurt the economy right now, and I think this hurts us politically.”

Mitt Romney, GOP Presidential hopeful, told ABC News, November 8, 2010, “I think we do an ineffective job too early communicating with young people and Hispanic voters. Another weakness of us – we’re not doing very well with Hispanic voters and other minorities,” Romney said. “The Hispanic vote is a very large population of our voting public, and ours is the party that wants to preserve the American opportunity that theirs or their ancestors came here for.”

Arizona State Senator-elect, Jerry Lewis, told Fox News Latino, November 15, 2011, “I think we can make a pretty good assumption that the Hispanic vote really made a huge difference in this election,” Lewis said in reference to his defeat of Russell Pearce in Arizona’s recall election. “I did a lot of door-knocking in Hispanic neighborhoods. I went on Hispanic shows.”

Marco Valera, a young aid to Republican freshman Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada, in Christian Science Monitor, November 16, 2011, ““The Hispanic vote is a sleeping giant.  More and more, Hispanics are aware of the political power they hold.”

Alex Garza, vice chairman of the Latin chamber and a Republican, in Christian Science Monitor, November 16, 2011, “We don’t do a good job of acknowledging the contributions the Latino community has given this country.  And we do a bad job at messaging the illegal immigration issue…We’ll never make headway ’til we change the rhetoric.”

Jamie Estrada, a Republican organizer in New Mexico who worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, in the Associated Press, November 19, 2011, “”The Senate race is competitive here and the Hispanic community is going to play an important role.”

Leslie Sanchez, Republican strategist who worked on the McCain campaign, in the Washington Post, November 28, 2011, “Unfortunately Romney has a history of throwing around the a-word, as in amnesty, without defining what it means. It is still toxic among Republican voters, including Hispanic Republican voters, but none of the Republican primary candidates support amnesty or a full pardon…In this case Romney is trying to quickly neutralize Gingrich on immigration during his ascension. But there are problems with this: For one, it’s Newt, and two, Hispanics have long memories.”

Javier Ortiz, a Republican strategist, in a blog post in The Hill, November 28, 2011, “The GOP establishment has done little to begin communicating with Latino voters, the segment of the electorate I believe could decide the outcome of the presidential contest.”

“The key takeaway isn’t that immigration will be a defining issue in the election; it is that a conversation between two sides begins with respect and recognition that both have something valuable to offer.  While Republican candidates may feel like that is a given, it may be the Hispanic voter who sits on the other side of the table may not agree.  This chasm, which has expanded due to the ineffectiveness of the party and candidates actively to reach out to Hispanics, will leave little time next year for the presidential campaign to make up the difference.  There is a real chance by next winter the GOP nominee will ask, why didn’t we do more?”

Senator Norm Coleman, chair of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Super PAC that works to elect Republicans to the House, in The Christian Science Monitor, November 29, 2011, “When Tancredo is seen as being the voice of the Republican Party, that hurts,” Coleman said. In 2010 “we got thumped in Colorado across the board by Hispanics, which I think helped cost us a Senate seat.”

Mercedes Schlapp, former Spanish-language spokeswoman in the Bush administration, told MSNBC, December 1, 2011, “We can all say secure the border, but what are you going to do about the 12 million people here?” she asked. “Really, everyone’s giving these simplistic answers to this very complex issue.”

Sharon Castillo, a former Republican National Committee (RNC) official in charge of Spanish-language outreach, told MSNBC, December 1, 2011, “I think it should be pretty obvious to most Republican candidates in the field right now that they need to have a large and welcome tent. And Hispanics being the largest minority in the country, it would be less than strategic to alienate them.”

Senator John McCain on CNN’s “State of the Union,” December 4, 2011, “The Republican Party has to discuss this in as humane a way as possible…We have to have empathy, we have to have concern and we have to have a plan.”  Senator McCain also noted the importance of Latino voters in 2012, saying, “The demographics are clear that the Hispanic vote will play a major role in national elections,” and highlighted the importance Latino voters place on the immigration issue while taking a shot at President Obama on immigration, saying, “the enthusiasm on the part of Hispanics for President Obama is dramatically less than it was in 2008, because he has not fulfilled his campaign promises either.  So I view the Hispanic vote up for grabs.”

Mike Gonzalez, vice president of communications at the Heritage Foundation, in Roll Call, December 5, 2011, “What we will see over the next 12 months, sadly … is a lot of cynical plays with Hispanic voters.”

Alfonso Aguilar, who runs the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, told NPR, December 8, 2011, “I think [Romney] has been ill advised, because he hears the traditional strategy from political pundits that say, you know, ‘Forget about the Latino community during the primary. They don’t play a role in the GOP primary. Engage them after you’re the nominee.’ Well, Latinos are listening to you right now, many of the debates were broadcast in Spanish through CNN en Espanol or Univision or Telemundo. They know exactly what Mr. Romney has been saying.”

Karl Rove, GOP strategist, in NPR, December 8, 2011, “From a tonal perspective, I’m personally more in line with the opening thrust of what the speaker was saying. Newt was saying, we can’t throw these people out,” Rove says. “I will readily admit, though, that he and I are in the minority thinking that that’s what we need to do inside the Republican Party.”

Fergus Cullen, former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman, in the Houston Chronicle, December 8, 2011, “First, the small number of immigration hard-liners aren’t going to like Perry, because he actually had a good, practical and pragmatic record on this issue consistent with the realities of being a border-state governor. Second, embracing a guy like Arpaio, with his atrocious record, doesn’t help Perry appeal to voters who hold more nuanced views on immigration.”

James W. Ziglar, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and a commissioner of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service under President George W. Bush, in the Texas Tribune, December 9, 2011, ““We are not going to deport these people. We need to deal with the problem and provide them with a way to a legal status.”

Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, in Fox News Latino, December 14, 2011, “A lot of the GOP campaigns have been ill-advised by strategists who truly don’t understand the views of likely Republican voters on the issue of immigration.”

Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chairman, in the National Journal, December 15, 2011, “That rhetoric comes across as more than anti-illegal-immigration. It’s perceived as anti-immigration, which in turn is perceived by Hispanic voters as anti-Hispanic…When you’re getting a shrinking percentage of the fastest-growing share of the electorate, you don’t have to be a math major to figure out that’s not good, long-term, for the party.”

Jeb Bush, former Republican Florida Governor, in the National Journal, December 15, 2011, “Candidates that focus exclusively on border protection and attack other candidates that take a more comprehensive view of border protection and additional measures will not be as effective in the general election.”

Steve Schmidt, Republican strategist who ran John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, in the National Journal, December 15, 2011, “The tone of how we talk about the issue, the lack of respect shown to the Hispanic community, are problems that Republicans have, and it’s a long-term problem.”

Jon Huntsman, GOP Presidential Candidate, during a debate in Iowa, December 16, 2011, “Let’s not lose sight of the fact that legal immigration is an engine of growth for this country. Half of the Fortune 500 countries in this country today were founded by immigrants.”

Mario H. Lopez, president of the Republican-leaning Hispanic Leadership Fund, in the Washington Post, December 16, 2011, ““Romney’s tin ear on this topic, on immigration, will hurt him should he be the nominee, is hurting the Republican Party and is hurting every conservative who cares about passing conservative legislation in the future.”

Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, in the Washington Post, December 16, 2011, “It pains me to say this, but if we have a negative narrative on immigration, it’s because of Mitt Romney.”

Lionel Sosa, GOP Strategist, in the Washington Post, December 16, 2011, in regards to Romney’s stance on Perry’s in state tuition legislation, “It makes it hard for a Latino to be able to warm up to a person that seems to come off unfriendly to a whole population of people.”

Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, in a New York Times report, December 28, 2011, “As the election draws near and Latino voters become more informed about the devastating effect the president’s policies are having on their community, they will increasingly look more seriously at the Republican candidate… And the Republican candidate only needs to get 40 percent of the Latino vote to win the election.”


John McCain, GOP Senator (AZ), on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, January 5, 2012, McCain bemoaned the GOP’s lacking efforts to court the Latino vote, “I think that if not this election cycle, the demographics are that Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, even Texas will all be in play,” McCain opined. “And if Republicans don’t fix the problem?” [Chuck] Todd followed up. “Yes, yes. We have to fix our problems with the Hispanics,” McCain acknowledged. “And it starts where?” Todd asked. “It starts with a way to address the issue of immigration in a humane and caring fashion, at the same time emphasizing the need to secure our borders because of the drug cartels and the people who transport people across our border and treat them terribly,” McCain replied.

Kirsten Kurkowski, RNC Spokeswoman, in Roll Call, January 9, 2012, “We [GOP] have catching up to do. I think we’ll admit we haven’t been the best at reaching out to the community,”

Doug Heye, former RNC communications director, in Roll Call, January 9, 2012, “It’s about communicating our policies in a smart way… If we [GOP] don’t engage growing communities, we will eventually condemn ourselves.”

Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, in Talking Points, January 10, 2012, “The GOP candidates’ stance on immigration “is a political error and deeply alienating to our community. They should reconsider their position. Any candidate who doesn’t see the writing on the wall is committing a serious, serious” error in judgment.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, GOP Congresswoman, in Fox News Latino, January 10, 2012, “I don’t agree with Gov. Romney’s position on immigration, but I agree with him solidly on the economy and for me, that’s the driving force in this election.”

DeeDee Garcia Blasé, founder of Somos Republicans, in the Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2012, “Romney committed political suicide when he received Kobach’s endorsement.”

Tamar Jacoby, Republican immigration specialist and former advisor to Senator John McCain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in Bloomberg, January 17, 2012, “The conventional wisdom and the general fear is right, that some Republicans, and some of the most important Republicans with the loudest microphones, are digging a very big hole for themselves that’s going to be hard to get out of.”

Tamar Jacoby, Republican immigration specialist and former advisor to Senator John McCain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in Bloomberg, January 17, 2012, “[Romney] is unfortunately taking one of the harshest tones. I have some hope for a course correction, but I think right now, for many Latinos, all they can hear is that off- putting first statement that really translates into, ‘We don’t like people who look and sound like you.’”

Susana Martinez, GOP Governor of New Mexico, in the Associated Press, January 17, 2012, “What we [GOP] have to do is this: We have to tone down the rhetoric, and we have to have a sincere, honest conversation with the voters.”

DeeDee Garcia Blasé, founder of Somos Republicans, in Fox News Latino, January 17, 2012, “[Gov. Romney] is done. He’ll be lucky to get 8 percent of the Hispanic vote.”

Somos Republicans, Latino Republican group, in Fox News Latino, January 18, 2012, “[Romney] takes a non-humanitarian approach to the DREAM Act and legal immigration reform,” and [Somos Republicans] vowed to “veto Romney at the polls.”

Somos Republicans, Latino Republican group, in Huffington Post, January 19, 2012, “We [Huffington Post] are asking our members to call Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart to express Latino Republican outrage at their betrayal of the Latino community at large, by their support of Mitt Romney, the most anti-immigrant Republican presidential candidate. Latinos are solidarian with Cuban Americans and the Amnesty policy towards them, and we expect reciprocity in their support for a reasonable and decent treatment of the current wave of immigrants. The current state of affairs denigrates all Latinos, including Cuban-Americans. Mitt Romney is on record for wanting to deport our equivalents of “Elian Gonzalez” and he stated he would veto the DREAM Act.”

Dee Dee Garcia-Blasé, founder of Somos Republicans, in International Business Times, January 19, 2012, “You would think Republican candidates would learn by now that Latinos are going to vote with who they feel safe with.”

Dee Dee Garcia-Blasé, founder of Somos Republican, in the Christian Post, January 19, 2012, “Romney is moving the Republican Party away from Christian compassionate conservatism based on his immigration view.”

Rick Snyder, GOP Governor of Michigan, in Michigan Radio, January 19, 2012, “It seems only logical that we would at least create opportunities for them [immigrants] to offer up that intellect to help grow businesses here in this country and, of course, in the state of Michigan.”

Jennifer Korn, who ran he Viva Bush! Re-election campaign for Bush in 2004, in Huffington Post Latino Voices, January 20, 2012, “We need to pay the respect of knowing that the Hispanic vote is going to be important and we need to engage them. We need to engage with the community and have them be part of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Jeb Bush, former GOP governor of Florida, in Bloomberg, January 21, 2012, “That could be an issue in the general election that plays out in a negative way for Republican candidates. In swing-states, Hispanic voters are increasingly the swing voters, and if you, by your tone more than anything else, send a signal that ‘you’re not wanted on my team’ — and I’m not saying any candidate has done that — you could alienate voters that could be part of the winning.”

Jennifer Korn, who ran the Viva Bush! Re-election campaign for Bush in 2004, in Fox News Latino, January 20, 2012, “Conservatives have not been out talking to the community and bringing them into the fold,” she said. “That’s why there’s a disconnect between Hispanics who are conservative and [them] actually coming to a party [Republican] identification.”

Jennifer Korn, who ran the Viva Bush! Re-election campaign for Bush in 2004, in the Washington Post, January 21, 2012, “If he [Romney] explains it [immigration policy] correctly, he definitely has a chance to have the Hispanic community listen to what he has to say.”

Dee Dee Blasé, founder of Somos Republicans, in a NPR report, January 24, 2012, “Romney is committing political suicide… There’s a change going in Florida right now, based on this whole Chris Kobach endorsement. It’s really lighting up Latino media.”

Anna Navarro, Florida GOP advisor, in Politico, January 26, “Romney has done himself some real damage. Romney has now thrown Obama a lifesaver on the issue. It’s been stupid and unnecessary. He could have been more nuanced and left himself room to maneuver. Immigration is not most the important issue for Hispanics, but it definitely sets a tone.”

Whit Ayres, GOP Pollster in Florida, in National Journal, January 26, 2012, “It is simply unarguable that in the future, you’re going to have far larger proportions of minority groups of all sorts, but especially Latino voters… If Republicans don’t figure out how to do better among Hispanic voters, we’re not going to be talking about how to get Florida back among the mega-states in a presidential election; we’re going to be talking about how not to lose Texas.”

Mark McKinnon, GOP strategist, in Daily Beast, January 25, 2012, “Here’s the harsh reality: unless Republicans win enough support from Hispanic voters, it doesn’t matter what happens in the rest of the campaign. The GOP will lose.”

Jeb Bush, former GOP governor of Florida, in CNN, January 26, 2012, “The growing populations in all of the swing states are Hispanic voters… This is an over-simplification, but I don’t think a party can aspire to be the majority party if it’s the old white guy party.”

Juan Hernandez, GOP strategist, in CNN, January 26, 2012, “Marco Rubio is well-liked among Hispanics but he must speak clearly in favor of immigration reform to bring votes to a Republican candidate for president.”

Ana Navarro, in UPI.com, January 29, 2011″Romney has now thrown Obama a lifesaver on the issue. It’s been stupid and unnecessary. He could have been more nuanced and left himself room to maneuver.”

Mario H. Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund,  in the Washington Post, January 27, 2011, “I gotta say, some of our members on immigration specifically have expressed some frustration with what they believe to be his intransigence on this issue.”

Mario H. Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, in Huffington Post Latino Voices, January 29, 2012, “Romney’s tin ear on this topic, on immigration, will hurt him should he be the nominee, is hurting the Republican Party and is hurting every conservative who cares about passing conservative legislation in the future.”

Jeb Bush, former GOP governor of Florida, at the Hispanic Leadership Conference, January 30, 2012, “We have seen a diminishing of [Hispanic] votes at a time when, as our demography changes, Republicans need to be much more focused on them.”  He continued [Hispanic voters] are “turned off” by “the ramifications of the Alabama law and other things like that.”

Republican Mayor of Miami, Thomas Regaldo, in an interview with Scott Pelley on CBS, January 31, 2012, “You have to sort of have a deeper conversation about immigration and immigration reform. It’s not all the same. You just can’t say the same thing applies to everyone. So it hurts us when the immigration debate turns into an anti-Hispanic, ‘everyone’s absolutely the same.’ Because it’s disrespectful to our contribution to the United States.”

Colorado’s GOP state chairman Ryan Call, in Fox News Latino, February 6, 2012, “I recognize the political realities of the changing demographics of the state…Reaching out to our Hispanic neighbors is absolutely critical if we hope to be successful.”

Veteran Republican presidential strategist Charlie Black, in Politico, February 23, 2012, “The party as a whole needs to [court Latinos], but Romney will be the leader of the party. … I think he needs to work very hard, especially with the Hispanic community.”

Charlie Black, top adviser to McCain’s 2008 bid, in Politico, February 24, 2012, “With the growth of the Latino vote and if Republicans don’t get back to being more competitive in the Hispanic community, yeah, Arizona will be a competitive state up and down the ballot.”

Bob Quasius, president of Cafe Con Leche Republicans, in Latino Fox News, March 6, 2012, “The Republican Party has not engaged well with Latinos in recent years, allowing Democrats to frame Republicans as anti-immigrant and even anti-Latino… The RNC recently began a dramatic expansion in Hispanic outreach, a move we fully support.”

Veteran GOP polster Whit Ayres, in the Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2012, “The immigration debate and the tone of some people in discussing it hurt the Republican Party. I don’t think there’s any way you can deny that.”

Ana Navarro, a Republican Party operative for the 2008 McCain campaign, in Politico, March 14, 2012, “In 2008, John McCain paid the price with Latinos for what other Republicans … had said and done. Romney could very well pay an even higher price with Latinos, but it will be for things he’s said and done. The tragic part about it is that he’s done it to win over the very conservatives, and they still [aren’t supporting him].”

Mark McKinnon, a Republican Party strategist for the 2004 Bush campaign, in Bloomberg, March 16, 2012, “Republicans have done a mystifying job of either ignoring or offending Hispanic voters. And the consequences for the general election are likely to be significant and perhaps determinative to the outcome.”

Veteran GOP polster Whit Ayres, in The Hill, March 20, 2012, “It is pretty obvious that we can’t continue to lose Latinos 2 to 1 as we did in 2008 and remain competitive as a national party. If we don’t do better among Latinos, we are not going to be talking about how to get back Florida in the presidential race, we are going to be talking about how not to lose Texas.”

Florida Governor Jeb Bush, in Latino Fox News, March 21, 2012, “For the Republican Party, the stakes could not be greater. Just eight years after the party’s successful effort to woo Hispanic voters in 2004, this community – the fastest-growing group in the United States, according to census data – has drifted away.”

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell, in The Hill, April 1, 2012, “If Romney could use an Etch a Sketch anywhere, it’s with Hispanics. When they start vetting [possible running mates], they have to start with the Hispanics and go from there. He’s really hurt himself with Hispanics in this primary…It’s not just about 2012, it’s about the future of the Republican Party. If you don’t make inroads with Hispanics now, I think the Republican Party could be wiped off the map for 20 years.”

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a speech at Duke University, April 11, 2012, “That immigrant culture that has renewed us … has been at the core of our strength.”