Romney’s lame Latino pivot

With Kris Kobach controlling his immigration message, Mitt can't move to the center

Topics: 2012 Elections, Immigration, Mitt Romney, ,

Romney's lame Latino pivot

How do you say “pivot” in Spanish? Cambiar su postura. No sooner had Mitt Romney sewn up the Republican presidential nomination, than he did just that, offering messages tailored to appeal, not to just Republican primary voters, but to general election voters of Mexican, Central American and Caribbean descent. The Obama campaign shadowed Romney’s moves by launching “Latinos for Obama” yesterday and floating the cocky but not impossible idea that the president might carry Arizona in November with Latino help. After months of being ignored in favor of white conservatives, the Latino voter is now center stage in campaign 2012.

Romney’s desire to maneuver is transparent. When he hired Ed Gillespie, former Bush White House pollster and immigration moderate, the Hill newspaper saw ” a sign the campaign will heavily court Hispanic voters — perhaps at the expense of immigration hard-liners in the party.” Then Romney allowed himself to be overheard telling supporters that “we have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party” and warning that overwhelming Hispanic support for Obama “spells doom for us.” He also mouthed approving sounds about Marco Rubio’s pitch for a Republican version of the DREAM Act. Republican immigration advocate Tamar Jacoby pronounced herself “thrilled.”



But the perils of the pivot emerged when Romney’s campaign tried to Etch A Sketch away the candidate’s working relationship with Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and immigration hard-liner. It was Kobach who persuaded Romney to advocate “self-deportation” as the solution to the presence of 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. When a campaign spokesperson told Politico on Monday that Kobach is not a campaign “advisor” but a “supporter,” Kobach responded by telling Think Progress that his relationship with the campaign has not changed. Then he upped the ante by telling WaPo’s Greg Sargent that Rubio’s idea is an unacceptable variation on amnesty and he expects Romney to reject it.

How long can Kris Kobach maintain de facto control of Romney’s immigration message? With Romney’s Latino poll numbers sinking toward single digits and Gillespie taking a larger role in the campaign, it may not be long. Restrictionist blogger Mickey Kaus thinks Romney is most likely to make a “targeted concession” such as backing a variation on the DREAM Act. Rubio, by most accounts, is planning to introduce a bill to legalize the status of high-achieving undocumented students in coming weeks with an eye toward forcing a Senate floor vote in the fall.

Both pro-and anti-immigration advocates deride Rubio’s idea as a stunt, and, depending on its language, it may be.  But the Romney campaign has no better card to play. “The dreamers,” as the students call themselves, are held in high esteem by the Latinos, nine out ten of whom  support for the DREAM Act. And fortunately for Romney, two leading student groups that have fought for the DREAM Act say they are open to Rubio’s idea.

“We definitely support the concept,” Mohammad Abdollah of DreamActivist.org told Salon. “From everything we’ve heard, it sounds like something we could support. We need relief. If it comes from a Democratic or a Republican proposal, for us it doesn’t matter.”

Gaby Pacheo of United We Dream, which is supported by the Service Employees International Union, which has endorsed Obama, was more cautious.

“We’re willing to entertain the idea,” she said. “We’re glad to see a Republican coming forward on this issue. We want to see what the bill says and who are the Republicans who will also support it. Rubio is going to need support not just in the Senate but in the House as well. Where are Mitch McConnell and John Boehner?” The message seems clear. Without Republican support in the House, Rubio’s measure cannot become law and if it can’t become law it will get no help from its putative beneficiaries.

And therein lie the limits of Romney’s ability to pivot on the immigration issue: his allies. To send Latino voters a new message in the fall, he needs the cooperation of Kris Kobach and the Republican congressional leadership, neither of whom is inclined to give it.

The anti-immigration forces say pandering to Latinos who won’t vote Republican anyway will be less effective for Romney than running hard against Obama’s economic record. This strategy has its limits too. The post-2008 downturn, it turns out, has been less severe for Latinos than for whites. A Pew Hispanic Center study found Latinos lost less than whites in the 2007-09 recession and gained more in the 2009-2011 recovery. Latinos are now gaining jobs at twice the rate of whites. So the economic issue is not as sharp as it might be. Besides, wrote Ali Noorani of National Immigration Forum in a column for Fox News, “no one is going to listen to your economic message if you want to deport their mother.”

Obama’s pitch to Latinos is an ethnically flavored variation on his general election message: I saved you from disaster and delivered benefits.

President Obama has spent the first three years of his term working to restore economic security to the middle class and Latino community. He’s kept nearly 2 million Latinos out of poverty, doubled the amount spent on Pell Grants so 150,000 more Latino students can afford their educations. And by 2014, Obamacare will provide health coverage to 9 million Latinos who are currently uninsured.

Romney’s pitch to Latinos? It’s a work in progress.

Jefferson Morley

Jefferson Morley is a staff writer for Salon in Washington and author of the forthcoming book, Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835 (Nan Talese/Doubleday).

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>