Mitt Romney‘s presidential chances are caught between the agenda of the conservative Tea Party wing and the demands of the Latino electorate which is increasingly alienated by The Republican Party’s stance on immigration, writes the ABC’s Michael Brissenden. Among the bowls full of unguarded truth spoken by Mitt Romney at that now infamous $50,000-a-plate dinner in Florida is a glaring recognition of a significant threat to the long-term survival of the Republican Party. Don’t worry about all the bon mots that will be reheated from that night and put into play for this election cycle, Mitt Romney might be caviar-coated toast but even he recognizes that his party has a structural problem which if not addressed soon could keep them out of the White House forever.
Since that video was aired much of the media discussion has focused on Mitt Romney’s declaration that it wasn’t his job to worry about the 47 per cent of voters who don’t pay tax and who believe they are victims with an overblown sense of entitlement to government support. But not much has been said about that other percentage of voter that neither he nor his republican Republican stable mates appear to be worrying about at this stage – Latinos. This is despite the fact that Mitt Romney himself acknowledges the growing increasing political significance of the US’s fastest-growing demographic.
As the waiters (who may or may not have been Latino but were likely in the 47 per cent bracket referred to) looked on, Mitt told the gathering of wealthy donors that his father was born in Mexico but that unfortunately he had been born of American parents who just happened to be living in Mexico. If, however, he had been born of Mexican parents then he said, “I’d have a better shot of winning this … I say that jokingly, but it’d be helpful if they’d been Latino.”
And he knows it would be helpful because the Latino vote is becoming so important. Many Republicans admit it’s the reason why some of the swing states like Nevada and Colorado are no longer looking as much like swing states: because Latinos there, and all across the country, are overwhelmingly voting for the Democrats.
Even Florida has shifted – a state that because of the older generation of Cuban immigrants had been solidly posting broad Latino support for the Republican Party. Now the younger generation of Cubans are voting for the Democrats and the new influx of Latinos from elsewhere in Latin America are voting that way too.
What next? Texas? It was Ronald Reagan who famously said “Latinos are Republican. They just don’t know it yet.” way back the 1980s. He also granted a partial amnesty for illegal immigrants during his term, a position that at the moment is a world away from the sort of immigration policy that is championed by a party increasingly influenced by Tea Party wing.
To win the nomination Romney has had to bend ever further to their agenda. He denounced the Dream Act (a bill Bill that would give conditional permanent residency to those brought to this country by their parents when they were children). He supported Arizona’s controversial tough law (SB 1070) that allows police to check a person’s immigration status at will. He also declared that ‘self deportation’ was the best way of dealing with undocumented immigrants.Romney says what the country US needs is a permanent fix to problems posed by and faced by the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now in the country but he has so far been vague on what that permanent fix might be.
IN THIS VIDEO ARE CLIPS OF BOTH PRESIDENT OBAMA AND MITT ROMNEY BEING INTERVIEWED ON IMMIGRATION
As the Reagan quote suggests Latinos should be natural Republicans. Most are conservative, Catholic and entrepreneurial, they are here in the US because they believe in the transformational potential of the American dream, but almost every one of them has a relative, or knows someone who has a relative, who is in the country illegally. Immigration policy is a big deal in the Latino community and most sensible republicans Republicans know it. Many Republicans say privately that this is the last time they’ll be able to go to an election with their current immigration platform. They accept that they it is time to stop using terms such as “illegal aliens” and instead start talking about “opportunity”. Supporting the Dream Act is the first step.
Read More: ABC News
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