The Romney campaign has said that it needs to win 38% of the Latino vote to win in November, and the latest tracking polls show that he’s lagging in achieving his goal. Romney received a bump in Latino support right after the RNC convention, where he reached 30% of the support of polled Latino voters, while President Obama still maintains over 60%.
Despite lagging far behind President Obama in reaching the growing segment of Latino voters, one might expect Mitt Romney to tone down the harsh immigration messaging. After coming out of a primary season where he suggested self-deportation for the 12 million undocumented, calling Arizona’s approach to immigration a “model” for the nation, and more recently not indicating whether he would rescind the administration’s deferred action program (DACA) for undocumented young people brought to the country as children, he just walked into another situation that has given Latino voters a reason to pause. On Friday, Romney endorsed a congressman known for his tough anti-immigration stance, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).
Congressman Steve King has advocated for an electric fence along the southern border, has compared immigrants to dogs, and has threatened to sue the Obama administration over the deferred action program that was announced in June (DACA). Recently, King has also introduced legislation to make English the official language of the United States, arguing that a common language would be a unifying force in America. King has been pushing the “English only” policy for nearly a decade despite data that shows immigrants who speak Spanish assimilate and start using English at a rate similar to previous immigrant groups.
At a campaign event on Friday, Romney said of King, “This man needs to be your congressman again. I want him as my partner in Washington D.C.”
Ana Navarro, a GOP operative specializing in Latino outreach, even tweeted “costs outweigh any possible benefit” in reference to Romney’s endorsement on Friday. This maneuver leaves people scratching their heads and wondering just how serious Romney is about closing the Latino voter gap that he’s facing with President Obama.
King, who has never lost a political race since 1996, is facing Democrat Christie Vilsack, who is the former Iowa first lady and wife of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in his re-election bid. The Washington Post has reported that there is no reliable polling in this race, but being an incumbent with a sustained record of winning is an advantage for King. Romney’s endorsement will probably not have much of a tangible benefit for King, but as Navarro points out will likely cost Romney.
Predictably, the Democratic National Committee pounced on Romney’s new endorsement over the weekend, releasing this video, Mitt Romney and Steve King, Partners in Extremism: