Fox News Latino: Romney Doubles Down on Immigration at South Carolina Debate

Drama!  Bright Lights!  Riled up booing crowds!  Blow-dried, made-up, and dark-suited men in stark opposition to the sweater vests or rolled-up sleeves of TV ads!

Multiple choice answer:

a) latest George Clooney movie

b) Rehearsals for the K Street version of S**t White Girls Say to Black Girls or S**t Lobbyists Say to Lawmakers (hmmm.  Maybe I need to get ON that)

c) The South Carolina GOP debate with what was at that time the five remaining candidates (Texas Guv Rick Perry has since bitten the dust)

d) A and C

e) sometimes B

f) all the above

g) none of the above

h) ____________ (fill in your choice)

TWLC's Viviana Hurtado in Fox News Latino: Romney Double Downs on Immigration at South Carolina Debate

Mitt Romney at South Carolina Debate Courtesy: AP

For those of you reaching back to your scantron days who guessed “c,” ¡correcto!

Some highlights of the debate:

  • Newt re-played some of the “cable catnip” zingers such as calling Obama the “Food Stamp President,” while egregiously omitting that the increase in this federal help is more a reflection of the depths of the recession than the Prez driving through the Trinidad section of DC, with darkened windows of his armored  ‘Burban rolled down, food stamps a-flyin’. Gingrich walks the tightrope between being diabolically brillante and just plain loco.  Too much instability for primary and general election voters?
  • Rick “I’m Running the Most Positive Campaign” Santorum performed better than I expected, pressing his rival on the negative ads of a Romney-supporting Super PAC, as well as ex-con voting rights.  Yes, this is the same man who said he doesn’t believe he needs to “make Black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Santorum insists he said “blah” and not “black.”  Why oh why pick on “blah” people?
  • Ron Paul

[insert sound of crickets]

  • Actually, Paul seems to have walked out of a Norman Rockwell painting (except when he answered he wishes he had gone more negative in his ads).  ¡Psssttt!  Let me let you in on a secreto: it’s not the early 20th century.  Ahmadinejad.  Lil’ Kim (not the rapera).  ‘Nuf said.
  • Mitt was on offense only when he doubled down on immigration with his opposition to the DREAM Act and statement that anyone in the country illegally should “get in line” after going back to her country to apply for residency.  Otherwise, he was on the defensive, with all the candidates gnawing at the likely-enveloped-in-Bali heels of the frontrunner.

As “Romney Doubles Down on Immigration at South Carolina Debate” appears in Fox News Latino where I am a regular politics columnist.

“Romney Doubles Down on Immigration at South Carolina Debate”
By: Viviana Hurtado

Mitt Romney doubled down on the statement that as president he would not support the DREAM Act, insisting that anyone here in the U.S. illegally go back to their country, apply for residency, in effect “get in line.”

At the Fox News sponsored South Carolina debate, the leading 2012 Republican presidential candidate justified his opposition to this proposed legislation, despite overwhelming support–85 percent–in the Latino community and despite co-moderator and Fox News contributor Juan Williams noting that Romney’s hardline would alienate Hispanic voters in the general election.

This was one of the few times Romney was on offense, just days before the important South Carolina Republican primary.  Since Ronald Reagan, no GOP candidate has become the presidential nominee without winning this key southern state.

The former governor of Massachusetts mostly reserved his sharpest criticism for President Obama, reflecting an election strategy meant to present himself and his proposed policies to voters as the alternative to the president in the run-up to the general presidential contest in November.  “Whoever we nominate has to be able to stand up to Obama,” Romney stated.

But for much of the debate, Romney had to stand up to fire from his fellow Republicans.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, and Texas Governor Rick Perry all heaped criticism on Romney.  Although the topics ranged from his record as Massachusetts governor on women’s reproductive rights and gun rights, the most furious attacks focused on Romney’s tenure as head of Bain Capital.  Dubbed a “vulture” versus a venture capitalist, Romney has been accused of promoting business strategies that prey on ailing companies, gutting them, with hundreds of workers losing their jobs.

At the debate, Perry cited the example of Georgetown Steel that cut 1,750 jobs, eventually going bankrupt while the prestigious Boston-based consulting firm which bought the South Carolina mill for $24.5 million in 1993, made $58.4 million about a decade later, according to the Myrtle Beach Sun News.

This sharp criticism has cast doubt on Romney’s assertion that, based on his private sector experience, he is the best candidate to turn around the ailing economy.  The economy and job creation are top issues for anxious voters, including Latinos who have been disproportionately hard hit by the recession: unemployment in the Hispanic community stands at about 11 percent in comparison to the 8.5 percent national rate.

Also in 2010 6.1 million Latino children lived in poverty—more than any other racial or ethnic group; and Hispanic household wealth fell 66 percent, from $18,359 in 2005 to $6,235 in 2009, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Romney has New Hampshire and a razor thin Iowa victory under his belt.  He will need something that eluded him at the debate: a clear, strong win on Saturday in the Palmetto state to propel him toward the nomination at the August Republican convention and November’s general election.

Click here to read other posts in the original TWLC series “Anatomy of an Immigration Debate” which analyze the charged political and social context of the immigration debate and the extraordinary demographic changes confirmed by the 2010 U.S. Census that are re-defining and challenging our notion of the body politic as articulated in the motto imprinted on American currency “E pluribus unum”–”Out of Many, One.”

Do you think Romney’s position on illegal immigration will hurt him with Latino voters in November?

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