June 20 2012 01:17 AM

Candidate knows he needs Latinos, and still he blunders

Mitt Romney
Photo by Gage Skidmore

As the November presidential election draws closer, liberals will wring their hands with increasing anxiety over the specter of “President Willard Mitt Romney.” Each time Romney attempts to pander to Jimmy Lunchpail, he resembles a modern-day Thurston Howell III more and more, and while that’s delightful to watch, it’s also terrifying when you consider the possibility that, if things break his way, he could win the office.

This is why it’s such a relief to see Romney stumble and blunder across political terrain that should be much easier to navigate—such as he did in the wake of President Barack Obama’s immigration-policy announcement last Friday. In case you missed it, Obama said that the federal government would no longer deport illegal immigrants if they’re younger than 30, arrived here when they were younger than 16, have been here for at least five years, have no criminal record and are either in school, high-school graduates or military veterans.

The point is that children of people who came here illegally likely had no choice in the matter and, therefore, had no intent to break the law. Many of them went on to get their education in U.S. schools and used it to become productive members of society, paying taxes (including, importantly, social security), buying goods and services and generally contributing to the economy. Story after story in the press has profiled young immigrants who haven’t taken their opportunities for granted because they understand how precious they are.

The policy change should have happened years ago because it’s absolutely the right thing to do, and anyone with a brain or a heart knows it.  

Apparently, Romney’s not sure if he belongs in that group. While he was struggling to vanquish heavyweights like Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich during primary season, Romney ran to the extreme right on immigration. And last weekend, when asked if he would undo Obama’s order if he’s elected, Romney couldn’t say. Because he doesn’t know.

And this is great for those of us who don’t want him to be the president. A Bloomberg poll conducted after Obama’s announcement found that 64 percent of likely voters agreed with the policy while 30 percent were opposed. Independents liked it even more. Though the Bloomberg poll didn’t break down respondents by race, an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted earlier showed that 73 percent of Latinos supported Obama, with 26 percent preferring Romney.

Even Romney knows how crucial Latinos are to his chances. In April, NBC’s Garrett Haake overheard Romney tell donors at a closed-door fundraiser in Florida that Obama’s huge advantage in Latino support “spells doom for us.” In that same speech, Romney said Republicans needed to get behind a policy such as the one Obama announced last week. And now he can’t say whether or not he’d reverse it. Obviously, whomever is pulling Romney’s strings won’t allow him to say he supports it.

And we think that’s just outstanding.

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