Sheriff Romney: Arizona Immigration Law a Model

Romney Sheriff Joe Arpaio

In terms of the impact it could have in November, the most important moment of last night’s debate may have come when Mitt Romney hailed the Arizona immigration law as a “model” for the nation while Sheriff Joe Arpaio beamed approvingly:

After moderator John King noted that Sheriff Arpaio said it was “political garbage” to not arrest and deport illegal immigrants, and asked Romney if he supported “aggressive” arresting and deportation, Romney went further than just endorsing Arizona’s approach.

“I think you see a model in Arizona,” Romney said, citing the employment verification system, stepped up border patrols and a border fence as goals for his presidency. “You do that, and just as Arizona is finding out, you can stop illegal immigration,” Romney said, adding that he would halt lawsuits against the Arizona law “on day one.” Santorum went even further. Source

If it were just one area of immigration policy in which Romney moved to the far-right edge of his party, it might be a little easier for him to appear more sensible when he reinvents himself again and starts making appeals for general-election votes. But it’s actually every meaningful area of the debate that’s proving to be problematic — Romney is an inflexible opponent of the DREAM Act; he’s palling around with Pete Wilson and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach; he endorses a “self-deportation” agenda; he’s critical of bilingualism; and his casual dismissals of “amnesty” and “illegals” are a staple of his campaign rhetoric.

Romney, by any reasonable measure, is the most right-wing candidate on immigration of any competitive presidential hopeful in generations.

Lionel Sosa, a Texas strategist who advised George W. Bush and John McCain on appealing to Latino voters, recently told the New York Times, “[Romney] can make as many trips to Florida and New Mexico and Colorado and other swing states that have a large Latino population, but he can write off the Latino vote. He’s not going to gain it again.” The Maddow Blog


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