When Bettina Inclan, the RNC Hispanic Outreach director, recently made a splash in the news over GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney’s position on immigration, the press bubble went apoplectic. “As a candidate, to my understanding, he’s still deciding what his position on immigration is,” said Inclan.
The day proceeded to get worse for Inclan.
But, given that Romney has been compared by his own campaign to an Etch A Sketch toy, should we be surprised that Inclan wasn’t completely clear on his immigration position?
What we do know about Romney’s immigration position is what he has stated in debates and on the campaign trail. Back in January, he told us that he would advocate for “self deportation.” And back in December in Iowa, he said that he would veto the DREAM Act if it passed in Congress. Romney also has said that Arizona is a “model” for immigration policy and that he would drop lawsuits against the state for its controversial SB 1070 law.
Even though it’s a primary, the public record won’t go away.
Now within the past few weeks, Romney has said that he’s “studying” Marco Rubio’s alternative DREAM Act, but he hasn’t been committal on the plan.
While Romney has talked a tough game on immigration enforcement, he hasn’t really offered anything to Latino voters that would allow him to make substantive gains with this voting block on this issue. Especially when you consider that Romney can make some inroads where President Obama has failed. A recent poll by Fox News Latino and Latin Insights shows that less than half of Latino voters polled approve of President Obama’s handling of the immigration issue.
For instance, within the pro-migrant sphere of the Latino electorate, President Obama is known as the “deporter in chief” for his administration’s record breaking deportations. The current administration’s policies have left thousands of American children in a foster care crisis because undocumented parents have been deported.
This is one area where Romney can flex his family values muscle and offer something to the community that clearly distinguishes himself from the President. Imagine if Romney proposed offering relief to families that are being divided; this would offer a clear distinction from the current policies being implemented by the Obama administration. Such a proposal wouldn’t be too far flung since we don’t yet know if the Romney campaign has hit its “reset button for the fall campaign.”
Romney is not known for consistency. There are a handful of sites dedicated to his flip flopping and multiple choice points of view. But perhaps one advantage of appearing to be all over the place on an issue is that it leaves room for change and clarification. Time will tell if Romney can offer something substantive to help the Latino community in terms of immigration or if he will continue talking up the harsh enforcement policies that have proven to be unpopular with this segment of voters.