Romney Inches Towards Moderating His Immigration Stance: Democrats Release New Ad (VIDEO)
All-but-declared-Republican-nominee Mitt Romney has started to try and moderate his immigration stance proving a)there are some issues where candidates must move to the center b)the importance of the Latino vote and c)how when the choice comes down to letting the other candidate of a party win even the most supposedly uncompromisable demands of ideological factions of parties can be fudged by those who insisted not one inch can be surrendered (to the right or left).
He went before a major Latino group yesterday and there was indeed a shift — not enough to satisfy many Latinos, but a shift. But there was no hue and cry from some on the Republican right who would have blasted him for this kind of shift during the primary debates:
Mitt Romney sought to broaden his appeal among Hispanic voters Thursday afternoon, recasting some of the hard-line positions he took during the heated Republican primary race on the divisive topic of immigration.
The former Massachusetts governor, calling immigration reform “a moral imperative,” said he would help immigrants reunite with their families and would allow more temporary work visas. Immigrants who earn advanced degrees at an American university would also earn a green card. And he reiterated support for providing legal status to immigrants in the military.
At the same time, he vowed to complete a 2,000-mile fence along the border to keep illegal immigrants out.
The speech was a significant departure from the blunt rhetoric Romney adopted during the Republican primary race, when he said illegal immigrants should go through “self-deportation” and leave the United States. At the time, he also criticized rivals Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich for policies seen as friendly to immigrants, and he said he would veto the Dream Act, which would create a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants.
But notice there was no significant outcry among those who insisted on a far-right stand during the primaries.
Which means he can start to moderate it (without using that dirty word) some more:
“We can find common ground here, and we must,” Romney said Thursday before a gathering at Walt Disney World by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “We owe it to ourselves as Americans to ensure that our country remains a land of opportunity – both for those who were born here and for those who share our values, respect our laws, and want to come to our shores.”
The remarks were Romney’s most extensive since President Obama – who will address the same group Friday — announced a shift in policy last week that has been hailed by immigrant advocate groups. Obama bypassed Congress to immediately stop certain deportations and instead grant work permits to an estimated 800,000 younger illegal immigrants.
The move has significantly complicated Romney’s efforts to reach out to Hispanics. His advisers have scrambled in recent days, trying to determine a proper response that would both differentiate Romney from Obama without disparaging Obama’s policy, which polls show has popular support.
Romney on Thursday called Obama’s policy “a temporary measure that he seems to think will be just enough to get him through the election.” He suggested that he would rescind Obama’s order and replace it with something new.
“Some people have asked if I will let stand the president’s executive action,” Romney said. “The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure.”
What Romney didn’t say is that a Republican filibuster, in late 2010, stopped Democratic efforts to pass a DREAM Act — previously supported by some GOP senators — granting a path to citizenship to young illegal immigrants pursuing a college degree or serving in the U.S. military. The measure received 55 Senate votes, short of the 60 needed to clear the filibuster.
Also left unsaid is that, due to congressional opposition, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been unable to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
Romney has two problems:
1. In terms of imagery the GOP is in awful shape among Latinos — as a party nearing the kind of image that the California Republican Party has due to its championing of Proposition 187 in the 1990s: a measure that was declared unconstitutional and championed by Republican bigwigs including then Governor Pete Wilson.
2. Obama will speak before the same group. It’s highly like he’ll get a hero’s welcome. This contrast will create lot of sound bytes and underscore the contrast in the parties’ standing with Latinos, and this component will be present in analyses by most pundits here and abroad — including on Spanish language radio and television. (Don’t expect it to be framed the same way by many Republican ideological weblogs but they do not make up the majority of the Latino voters that the Republicans need to reach).
The Democrats are making sure Latinos don’t forget Romney’s record with this new ad: