How Mitt Romney Made Tom Tancredo Cool Again

It’s been mentioned a few times in the course of the long GOP presidential primary season, but we wanted to make sure the local and regional origins of a particular line frequently employed by Mitt Romney on immigration policy–that he would not forcibly deport illegal immigrants, but create harsh conditions that would lead to them “self-deporting”–were properly explored.

Courtesy The Daily Beast, here’s a prime example of Romney’s usage from late January:

Romney’s introduction of the concept of “self-deportation” in that debate didn’t go over well with the conservative audience, as you can hear from, well, the chuckling. Then-opponent Newt Gingrich lambasted Romney suitably:

“You have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic $20 million income for no work to have some fantasy this far from reality,” Gingrich told Univision interviewer Jorge Ramos. “For Romney to believe that somebody’s grandmother is going to be so cut off that she is going to self-deport, I mean this is an Obama-level fantasy.”

But we wonder if that audience of rock-ribbed conservative primary voters would have been laughing if they had seen this clip of our own ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo?

This clip of Tom Tancredo–one of the most widely-known (and reviled) proponents of cracking down on illegal immigration in America–explaining that his position on immigration has always been about “self-deportation” comes from a May 3rd, 2011 debate on the issue for Intelligence Squared, a PBS/NPR project. Tancredo’s partner in this Oxford-style team debate was none other than Kansas Secretary of State and Arizona SB-1070 co-author Kris Kobach–the Romney advisor who the campaign variously claims, and keeps at arm’s length.

Bottom line: at some point this concept of “self-deportation” is going to get repackaged into something more palatable and ostensibly compassionate–a “centrist” way of letting the problem “work itself out.” After all, Romney tried this line out on conservatives and got laughed at, right? One way or another, some kind of damage control on the issue is a matter of necessity:

In his pursuit of the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney took an aggressive position on immigration, denouncing the Dream Act, suggesting illegal immigrants should “self-deport” and attacking rivals who appeared to show compassion for some undocumented immigrants.

That has left the presumptive nominee in a deep hole with Hispanic voters, trailing President Obama by more than 40 points among this critically important constituency in [a late April] NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll. The question is whether Romney can credibly undo the damage from the primaries without igniting a renewed debate about his consistency on the issues.

When that happens, a clip of Tancredo advocating for the same thing ought to keep it real.

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. MADCO says:

    I self- deport at least 4 or 5 times a week. Sometimes more.

    I’m not proud – not stopping either.

  2. Gilpin Guy says:

    is at a standstill because illegal immigrants are returning to Mexico.  You would think that the right would be touting it as a success story more so than the Obama Administration pursuing aggressive deportation tactics and increased manpower for border patrols.

    The trick for Romney is to claim credit for it to appease his xenophobic base while persuading Hispanics that things have worked out and they’re better off without the competition.

    • BlueCat says:

      The standstill and even some self deportation is the result of the lousy Bush economy that Obama inherited so this is all kind of tricky.  The lousy economy is supposed to be all Obama’s fault now but pointing out what started this phenomenon can’t be done without bringing attention to the fact that it started back when Bush and his rubber stamp GOP dominated Congress were setting in motion the tanking of the economy.

      Besides, GOP legislatures all over the country passing draconian laws aimed at illegals need to keep people convinced that this is a worsening, not lessening problem. They don’t want people to be aware of the change in the flow of illegals, much less take credit for it, which would be pretty much the same as taking credit for the fact that the economy began to suck under their party’s stewardship. That would also just give Dems another opening to point out that the economy has actually improved, though not nearly enough, mainly due to the GOP’s obstruction, since Obama became President.

      In general, the fact that Mexicans don’t want to come here anymore because of the damage a decade of wars and lousy economic policy did to us, starting under Bush and largely continuing with Obama and the timid Dem majority congress in the first two years and the GOP House with GOP power to filibuster anything they don’t like in the Senate since then, isn’t an attractive message for anyone on either side of the aisle.

      The only party that can use it to any advantage is the Dem party to show how draconian legislation that puts legal Hispanic residents at risk of harrassment isn’t justified. But who, R or D, really wants to run on “We’ve solved the illegal immigrant problem by becoming a lousy place to find work. Yey us!”?

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        It is like bragging that unemployment went down to 8.1% because more baby boomers are retiring rather than more jobs being created.  Yeah us indeed!  

      • ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

        Only for those who shouldn’t be here. This is one of the only things that Obama may have possibly done ok at in his disastrous term, and you can’t even take credit for it. It’s hard to be a Democrat, isn’t it?

        • BlueCat says:

          You see (and I’ll type this very slowly), people aren’t coming here to look for work because there is so little work to be had, not just for illegals but for citizens and legal residents, too.  Don’t you read the papers? Listen to the news?  Listen to your own party hammering away at how bad things are and how much worse they’re getting and blaming it all on Obama? Ringing any bells?  

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