Mitt Romney reveals his weak, Democrat-friendly immigration campaign

Garrett Haake of MSNBC overheard a Mitt Romney speech at a closed-door fundraiser to wealthy donors last night and - among much more - says this (link):

Predicting that immigration would become a much larger issue in the fall campaign, Romney told his audience, "We have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party," warning that recent polling showing Hispanics breaking in huge percentages for President Obama "spells doom for us."

Romney said the GOP must offer its own policies to woo Hispanics, including a "Republican DREAM Act," referring to the legislative proposal favored by Democrats that would offer illegal immigrants a limited path to citizenship, to give Hispanic voters a real choice between parties.

Romney nonetheless predicted that, by November, the economy would trump immigration as a driving issue for Hispanic voters, and he vowed also to remind the Hispanic community that, despite promises of comprehensive immigration reform by Obama, Democrats ultimately fell short in passing legislation in their two years in control of Congress and the White House at the start of the president's term.

That won't help Romney, it will help Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, and it's also bad for the country.

To undercut Romney's plan, all the Democrats need to do is to offer a full DREAM Act. Romney can't say the full version is bad, because he'd be undermining his own version at the same time and he'd also be turning off the very people he's trying to pander to. Romney isn't trying to undermine the concept of the DREAM Act, he's just offering a Lite version. Among Latinos who are motivated by immigration, why would they vote for the Lite version when they can get the full version with Obama?

On "reform", why would a motivated-by-immigration Latino vote for Romney? Given his primary ideas, is it likely that he'd push for full "reform"? Who would be more likely to push through "reform": another Obama administration or the Romney administration? All Obama has to do is make excuses for not getting reform in the past and continue promising to pursue it in his next term, and he'll be able to undercut Romney there too. It's not like Romney's position would push Obama to the "left" on immigration: he's always been there and few have ever used it against him (see Obama immigration for just how vulnerable he is on that issue).

At the same time, Romney will be suppressing turnout among conservatives and others who oppose amnesty.

Romney is validating the Democrats' position on immigration. He's not trying to undercut it: in fact, he can't undercut their policy concepts without undercutting his own policy concepts. Romney is selling a product that costs more and does less, and that's not going to work. Imagine that Romney decided to stop offering a Lite version of the DREAM Act and decided to match the Democrats item by item on their immigration policy. Would that work? No, because no matter how he acts like them, the Democrats will always manage to be more echt to those Romney would be pandering to. If Romney tries to use Marco Rubio as a VP pick or in some form of outreach, the Democrats will simply portray him as a "coconut" and offer a more echt alternative to the same audience (such as Antonio Villaraigosa).

The better alternative - for Romney and also for the U.S. - is to not give in to Latinos who vote their race. It's to not give in to ethnic nationalism. Instead, it's to try to undercut such ethnic nationalism before it becomes even more of an issue than it already is. And, it's to undercut - not validate - the Democrats on immigration. At the very least, that would help reduce the Democrats' ability to use the issue against Romney. Romney could even effectively run on attrition, provided that at the same time he worked to undercut the Democrats on immigration. Obviously, the problem here is incompetence, either on Romney's part or that of his advisors (or both). They can't see a way out of this issue that doesn't involve helping the Democrats and reducing Romney's chances.

For how to undercut those policies effectively, see DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. Romney can't and won't discuss any of those downsides, because he's validating the underlying concepts.

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