Romney is still wooing that all-important brown-hating vote, but why?

Mitt Romney emerged from self-imposed gas-pumping exile to complain about his 2012 clobbering, apparently not having learned his lesson, and instead believing he’s still running in the Republican primaries.  Romney confessed yesterday that he’s still not in favor of a path to citizenship – or even permanent residency – for undocumented immigrants currently in the country.

“People who have come here illegally should not be given a special pathway to permanent residency or citizenship in this country merely because they’ve come here illegally,” he said to Fox News Sunday.

Romney lost the Latino vote to President Obama by a whopping 71 to 27 percent, the lowest percentage a Republican presidential nominee has received in the last three elections. Latinos joined multiple other groups in rejecting the Republican nominee, including gays and lesbians, women, Black, and Asian voters.

As the GOP struggles to find its identity, a significant portion of the party must realize that its survival depends on passing comprehensive immigration reform, especially when considering that Latinos will soon surpass the typical white-bread-voters of the GOP in terms of pure numbers. The Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Eight” realizes it, with Senators John McCain and Marco Rubio favoring some sort of legalization.

So what’s Mitt’s problem?

Mitt Romney

Romney via Shutterstock

Romney’s need to attach himself to extremist principles led to his defeat. “Self-deportation” proved to not be a winning strategy. Tying himself to the creator of Arizona’s “Papers, please” law and calling it a “model for the nation” was equally infuriating to L atino voters. While Herman Cain’s proposition to deep-fry Mexicans was greeted with universal mockery, Mitt did nothing to assuage Latinos after winning the nomination. Appearing on Spanish-language Univision in his best “Latin” orange-face, Mitt’s use of the pejorative “illegal aliens” to a room full of Latinos cemented his apparent lack of self-awareness.

Salon even claimed that a horrified John McCain and Lindsey Graham staged a phone intervention with Romney, urging him to no longer use the “self-deportation” phrase. Latinos agreed, but the damage had already been done, with a full 59 percent viewing him less favorably after his comments.

Romney’s periphery only managed to include the most hardcore of GOP advisers, believing that men like the creator of the “Papers, please” law Kris Kobach and xenophobe Mark Krikorian (one of the originators of the “self-deportation” theory) would help solidify his conservative appeal among a seemingly untrusting base. The plan was flawed, as it only sought extremists in the Tea Party and other minor groups, but made no room for the larger base of independents and Republican voters eager for bipartisanship.

Basically, Mitt Romney made little attempt to woo voters who never asked George W. Bush for his birth certificate either.  And he didn’t get them.

Mitt failed to realize, or flat-out ignored, the overwhelming number of Republican voters in favor of some sort of legalization for undocumented immigrants.  Even the far-right website Newsmax showed a full 66% of GOP voters in favor of “immigration reform that includes a waiting period of several years for illegal immigrants to prove themselves before being allowed to apply for citizenship.” Countless other GOP legislators agreed in some manner.  In the end, party standard-bearer Mitt Romney wasn’t even aligned with the current policies of the majority of his own party.

In the months leading up to Romney’s nomination and the general election, poll after poll showed him tanking with Latino voters, yet a seemingly tone-deaf Romney failed to adapt to the changing demographics of his own party and the nation.

Mitt Romney sporting his new orange "day laborer" tan.

Mitt Romney sporting an orange “day laborer” tan for his town hall meeting at Univision.

If Mitt continues to wonder why he lost Latinos in the biggest electoral landslide in decades, he need look no further than what his own campaign continually ran against. While he committed to voting against a DREAM Act to help legalize undocumented youth, President Obama embraced DREAM youth and won that battle.

While Romney promoted the idea of stopping an American citizen and judging their legal status based purely on the darkness of their skin, President Obama condemned the idea and rightfully won that battle.

And when Mitt Romney explained his superficial experience with undocumented immigrants as firing the “illegal” gardener, he needed no help from Obama to nail his campaign’s coffin shut – he did that all on his own.

Now that his dream of the presidency is gone, Mitt Romney finally finds the one issue he’s going to remain consistent on: Latino-bashing.  Good luck with that in retirement.

Gabe Ortíz is a San Francisco-based writer. He has contributed to the Mission's bilingual newspaper "El Tecolote," and the political blogs AMERICAblog, AMERICAblog Gay, and Veracity Stew. He's also a Stevie Nicks lover and shameless catlady. Follow him on Twitter: @Tusk81.

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