Whit Ayres: the GOP pollster trying to weaken Mitt Romney on immigration (Hispanic Leadership Network)

For several weeks, the establishment media have been printing articles designed to weaken Mitt Romney on immigration, holding out the Hispanic vote as a carrot. While not as similar as the PIIPP articles, they all have the same components: an oh-so-earnest concern that Romney's supposed tough stance on immigration is hurting him with Hispanics, a suggestion that he support Marco Rubio's version of the DREAM Act or some form of comprehensive immigration reform, and so on.

Are there any circumstances in which you can see the media offering good advice to Mitt Romney? Of course not: the media continues to be what it was four and more years ago: a virtual extension of the Obama campaign. Those media sources offering such articles are what are called "concern trolls". The media supports massive and illegal immigration. They might realize how a more aggressive Romney could affect Obama on the issue, or they might realize how weakening Mitt Romney on immigration would help Obama.

One other feature many of these articles have in common is GOP pollster Whit Ayres. A search for Google News at post time for Whit Ayres Hispanic reveals several articles in which he acts the role of Allan Hoffenblum (see that link). He's apparently doing that as an advisor for the Hispanic Leadership Network, which is part of the American Action Network (do see both those links). His given title varies; he's also identified as an independent pollster and working for North Star Opinion Research and Resurgent Republic. He was identified here as "[someone who has] also served as pollster and advisor to Gov. Bill Haslam and Sens. Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker and former Sen. Bill Frist".

Whatever his ever-changing title, he's a busy bee:

Title: "Damage Control/After alienating Hispanics, Mitt Romney needs to mend fences. Marco Rubio's immigration plan could help"
Author: Ronald Brownstein at National Journal

While Latinos are disappointed about the economy and disenchanted with Obama for not stressing immigration reform, "Republicans have to adopt a tone that clearly views Hispanics as a part of a center-right coalition and be very aggressive in their efforts to reach out," says GOP pollster Whit Ayres, who advises the right-leaning Hispanic Leadership Network.

Title: "Pollster: Latinos Are Key to GOP Winning White House"
Author: Caitlin Huey Burns of RealClearPolitics

"If we don't do better among Latinos, we're not going to be talking about how to get back Florida in the presidential race; we're going to be talking about how not to lose Texas going forward," Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican strategist whose firm worked for Jon Huntsman, told reporters Thursday [March 8]...

...But the voters polled cited jobs and the economy as the most important issue facing them, and that, said Ayres, is where Republicans need to make inroads. If the GOP presidential nominee builds a compelling case that he understands how to ignite the economy and create jobs better than Obama, "he will get a higher share of the Latino vote than he is getting right now," said Ayres, who is confident that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will win the nod. "With the right message and the right outreach, we will do better, and probably because we're not stupid. We can count. It's pretty obvious that we can't continue to lose Latinos 2-1, the way we did in 2008, and still be competitive as a national party."

To do this, the nominee "cannot come across as someone who does not care about the concerns of Latinos," Ayres said during a newsmaker breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. The candidate has to send "a signal that we'd love to have you as part of our team."

Title: "Victory on Arizona Immigration Law Could Cost Republicans in the Long Run/A green light from the Supreme Court could produce laws that worsen the GOP's problems with Hispanic voters"
Author: Beth Reinhard

"For the long-term political health of the Republican Party, it's absolutely critical that we do substantially better among Hispanic voters," said GOP pollster Whit Ayres, who has done surveys on immigration issues. "Numbers don't lie, and the numbers are clear: The percent of the electorate that is white is declining -- and declining rapidly. If we had the demographics in this country in 2008 that we had that we had in 1980, John McCain would be president of the United States."

Title: "Romney campaign trying to win over Hispanic voters"
Author: Steven Thomma of McClatchy Washington Bureau

Some of [Romney's] problem comes with the Republican brand, some through his own tough talk on illegal immigration during the Republican primaries. Either way, Romney has to find a way to close the gap or lose. Among the options: a conservative version of immigration reform, an Hispanic running mate, and plenty of grassroots courting.

"It's the most important swing voter group in the country," said Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

Title: "GOP Tries to Woo Hispanics/After Tough Rhetoric on Immigration in Primary, a Push to Win Key Constituency"
Author: Laura Meckler of Wall Street Journal

Last week [March 26-30], Republican pollster Whit Ayres spoke to Senate Republicans about the GOP's image problems with Hispanics. "Clearly, the tone has to be one of welcoming new people into the party," he said in an interview. "But the substance has got to be right as well. We need to be sure any positions we take are not perceived in the community as anti-Hispanic."

Title: "Mexican immigration falls for first time in four decades"
Author: Ed Pilkington of Guardian

Whit Ayres, a Republican political strategist, said the evidence of a large decline in illegal border traffic was helpful. "Before you can move forward with any serious immigration reform you need to give Americans confidence that the border is secure," he said.

(Note: see secure the border)

Title: "Rubio: Arizona Immigration Law Is Not a Model for the Nation/The Florida senator is in conflict with Romney on the controversial law"
Author: Beth Reinhard

"Some people are counting on using this issue as a wedge in the election," said Rubio, who added that he hoped to unveil his legislation this summer. "This has to be a longer-term commitment. How can we win the next election – that's not the design of this bill."

There are already signs of interest from both sides of the debate, reflecting Rubio's stature as one of the nation's most influential Hispanic elected officials. Shortly before he spoke, the Republican-leaning Hispanic Leadership Network released a survey that found voters across the board strongly prefer granting legal status with a work visa to the children of illegal immigrants instead of cititzenship. The poll was conducted by Whit Ayres of North Star Opinion, who worked on Rubio's successful 2010 Senate campaign.

Title: "Why is illegal immigration still an issue?"
Author: Rachel Weiner of Washington Post

"I'm not sure people have a sense that immigration is down," said Joshua Uliberri of the Democratic polling firm Lake Research Partners. In states with large Hispanic populations, "it hasn't penetrated their view of the issue."

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster at Resurgent Republic, agreed. "A change in the data is not likely to change opinions," he said. People worried about illegal immigration "would be more likely to trust governors" in border states over polling or the administration.