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Latinos: Republicans now officially want to be your friends

Nov 19, 2012

Robert Gutierrez, the head of Mitt Romney’s Latino outreach effort, was one of many Republicans who cringed when Romney rose like the political undead last week to give his election post-mortem and said Obama won because he gave “gifts” to needy voters, especially Latinos and young people.

Romney cited the DREAM act, which gives kids of immigrants a path to citizenship, as hard to “compete” with. It’s especially hard to compete with when your solution to immigration reform, which you’ve said out loud during the debates, is “voluntary deportation,” in which all the immigrants that conservatives don’t like being here get up and excuse themselves to some other country—any country but this one.

Gutierrez joined the ranks of Republicans Against Romney alongside Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who denounced Romney’s “gifts” line as “absolutely wrong.” Gutierrez showed up on CNN yesterday and said he was “shocked” by the line himself. “I don’t know if he understood that he was saying something insulting,” Gutierrez said.

It’s hard to see how Gutierrez could have been shocked when this is exactly what Romney was saying during the whole campaign. Maybe he was too busy ineffectively reaching out to Latino voters to notice.

At any rate, Gutierrez, like Jindal and a bunch of other Republicans, have decided their party is totally screwed moving forward if they don’t befriend the Latino vote. There’s even speculation that Texas could go Democrat as soon as 2016 as the Latino vote becomes a larger share of the vote there.

Sure, some Republicans want to stay the course with the party’s identity. But Gutierrez has fired the first serious shot over the bow in reforming the party’s image for 2016: He’s just teamed up with Charlie Spies, with whom he co-founded the biggest pro-Romney SuperPAC for this election, Restore Our Future, to form a new SuperPAC, called Republicans for Immigration Reform.

Gutierrez says its goal is “some sort of legalization” for immigrants stuck without citizenship. He wants the SuperPAC to be “something real and something that can have real influence on the outcomes of elections.”

LA Times reports the SuperPAC will have “a clear focus on resolving an issue that played a role in Romney’s poor showing among Latinos on election day.”

But after the massive insults the Republicans doled out to Latinos this year, will it really be enough to just come back and say, “Hey, we’ll give you the same things as the Democrats”? The GOP might want to do a little soul searching before taking that message out for a road test, lest its painfully transparent pandering spark an even bigger backlash.

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