On Friday, Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney endorsed Steve King (R-IA) for another term in Congress. King, who once compared selecting immigrants to dog breeding, represents the worst of nativist sentiment and Romney’s solicitation of the know-nothing wing of his party makes a mockery of any analysis that indicates that demographics demand that Romney move off his “self-deportation” stance in the primary toward the more humane and comprehensive approach to immigration reform.
There has been tremendous speculation that Mitt Romney would “tack to the center” on immigration after the primaries. During the Republican primaries, Romney staked out extreme anti-immigrant positions that made Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich almost seem sane. In Florida, Romney embraced the “self-deportation” myth, that is, if life is made sufficiently miserable for immigrants they will leave of their own accord. That approach is being tried in Alabama and Arizona and the result has been to detract from any meager economic recovery these states may have enjoyed. But, as Romney consolidated his hold on the nomination, he distanced himself from anti-immigrant lawyer Kris Kobach and started hanging out with Marco Rubio, who made noises about how the Republican Party needed to take a different approach on immigration than “all deportation all the time.” Rubio even started talking about a Republican version of the DREAM Act, but Romney would not comment on it. When the President announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Rubio dropped the DREAM Act and Romney dropped Rubio.
It now seems that Romney’s flirtation with the immigration mainstream is over and he is going back to the Brewer-Arpaio-Kobach-King axis. His embrace of Steve King stating that he “wants this man as his partner in Washington DC” says all you need to know about Romney. As the Spanish saying goes, “Dime con quien andes, y te dire quien eres.” Tell me who you walk with and I will tell you who you are. As the Proverbs say “the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
And, make no mistake, King is a fool. Build the border fence? Yes, says King. Over turn the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship? Yes! English-only? Yes! King’s votes have earned him a 100% rating from the know-nothing Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR). But it is his mouth that has really demonstrated his idiocy. In addition, to his comparison of immigrants to breeding dogs, King has been good for the following nuggets:
- suggesting an electric border fence to control movement “the way we do with livestock.”
- “Profiling has always been an important component of legitimate law enforcement.”
- “I will tell you that, if he [Obama] is elected president, then the radical Islamists, the al-Qaida, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11 because they will declare victory in this War on Terror.”
- Supported Todd Akin’s retrograde position on rape and pregnancy.
- Empathized with the terrorist who crashed his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS office
- Joined the loony birther crowd.
- Supports the rogue ICE bureaucrat’s lawsuit against Janet Napolitano.
- Suggested secession.
There’s plenty more where that came from. King is in the tightest race of his career as he is challenged by Christie Vilsack. Immigrant’s List is a pro-immigrant PAC that works to raise funds against anti-immigrant incumbents and to elect individuals friendly to immigrant rights and has made King a top target for defeat.
Romney’s decision to spend his time with a politician who is on the losing side of history says a lot about where his campaign is these days. He has chosen to appeal to the most extreme parts of the GOP base. And while this may buy him some votes in 2012, it is not a good long term strategy. Romney has set a target of 37% of the Hispanic electorate. He has a long way to go. Most polls show him hovering below 30%. In addition, key states in this election such as Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada and Colorado have increasing numbers of Hispanic voters. In addition, demographic trends show that more and more states are going to be competitive due to the increase in Hispanic voters. The big prize in the Latino-inzation of the electorate is Texas. While Texas is solidly GOP in this election, future elections are far from clear. So Romney can pal around with dinosaurs like King and hope to nudge his numbers up in the Tea Party crowd, he is, long-term, helping to dig the grave of the modern GOP.