Over the past few weeks, several outlets have pointed to the notable absence of a number of Republican rock stars at an event hosted by the Hispanic Leadership Network that was “billed” as a forum for the 2012 Republican presidential field to speak directly to Latino voters. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) declined the invite, as did Sen. John Thune (R-SD), and Govs. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) and Rick Perry (R-TX). Newt Gingrich never committed, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) was never mentioned, and my guess is no one thought Sarah Palin (R) would even bother to come.
Since most of the Republicans who are most often mentioned as probable top contenders in next year’s election won’t be speaking at tomorrow’s event, it seems worth going over what they’ve had to say in the past about immigration — one of the Latino electorate’s top concerns:
PALIN: After Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) lost his presidential bid in 2008, Palin openly lamented that “we didn’t get the Hispanic vote—and that was very significant.” For a while, Palin kept her opinions on immigration to herself. Shortly after Arizona passed the toughest immigration law in Arizona, Palin declared, “I think every other state on the border should emulate what Arizona has done.” She indicated that after the border is secured, immigration reform can be considered. In the meantime though, “other states should do what Arizona is doing.”
ROMNEY: This past summer, Politico reported that Romney “signaled quietly to [Sen.] Graham that Republicans must address immigration before the campaign heats up.” Romney hasn’t said much publicly on immigration ,other than pointing out that Arizona’s immigration law was a response to the government’s inability to secure the border. “It is my hope that the law will be implemented with care and caution not to single out individuals based upon their ethnicity,” he added. “It is increasingly clear that the time has come for Washington to fulfill its responsibility for border security.” It’s unclear what position he’ll be taking this time around, but during the last presidential primaries Romney ran a bunch of nasty immigration ads.
GINGRICH: Gingrich had a lot to say about immigration last year. In December, he urged Congress to undertake immigration reform, stating, “There has to be some zone between deportation and amnesty.” At the time, Gingrich didn’t provide a lot of details about what that zone would look like. However, in 2009, Gingrich told Univision anchor Jorge Ramos that the best way to deal with the 12 million undocumented workers currently living in the U.S. would be to convince them to uproot their lives and go back to their home countries for an undetermined amount of time in exchange for a temporary guest-worker visa with no guarantee of legal permanent residency.
PENCE: In an interview with Right Side News in May, Pence stated, “I simply believe that some day down the road we can find an intersection between the rule of law and the deep compassion of the American people — but in the intervening years, what’s become clear to me is that we must focus on border security and internal enforcement first.” Pence also justified Arizona’s immigration law by falsely claiming that Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the world and saying, “there’s nearly a half a million illegal immigrants and, and a rampant drug trade and, and, and human trafficking trade that’s been besetting.”
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) is the one Republican 2012 presidential hopeful who will be speaking at tomorrow’s event. Today, Pawlenty touched on immigration briefly at a Press Club event, indicating that securing the border and making the electronic employment verification system — E-verify — should be “pre-requisites” to having a larger discussion on immigration which includes dealing with the undocumented population. Pawlenty compared “open and flagrant and sustained violations of [immigration] law” to allowing people to pee on sidewalks in New York City and how that led to “crack houses and the like.”