February 23rd, 2012
08:38 AM ET
2 years ago

Democrats attack Romney over immigration

Mesa, Arizona (CNN) – Mitt Romney's top campaign advisers were pleased with their candidate's performance in Wednesday night's GOP presidential debate hosted by CNN and the Arizona Republican Party–and so were top Democratic Party and Obama re-election campaign officials.

During the debate, Romney defended Arizona's controversial 2010 illegal immigration law, saying, "You know, I think you see a model here in Arizona."

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The former Massachusetts governor also attacked the Obama administration for its legal challenges against the measure, adding "the right course for America is to drop the lawsuits against Arizona."

While such a stance may help Romney with the more conservative electorate in the GOP primaries and caucuses, Democratic Party officials feel that if Romney becomes the nominee his stance could hurt him with Hispanic and Latino voters.

The Democratic National Committee quickly put out a web video that used clips of Romney's comments on immigration from the debate and labeled Romney as "The GOP's Most Extreme Candidate" on immigration.

"He is supporting the Arizona plan, which even other border states don't support because it's extreme," Stephanie Cutter, Obama Deputy Campaign Manager, told Soledad O'Brien Thursday morning on CNN's "Starting Point." "Mitt Romney's support of that, I'm sure it will be talked about if he's the nominee. I think he's alienated a lot of voters by doing that."

The Romney campaign was quick to respond Thursday.

"This is a dishonest smear from President Obama's liberal allies and a desperate attempt to distract from his failed record. It will do nothing to help the millions of Hispanics who have been hit especially hard as a result of the abysmal Obama economy," said Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams. "Hispanics are supporting Mitt Romney because they know he has a proven record as a conservative businessman, and is the best person to rebuild the economy that President Obama has spent three and half years destroying."

– Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Also see:

Graham clarifies remarks on Obama's faith

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The Detroit News endorses Romney

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. diridi

    fellow American Hispanics, you got it–"I think you see a model here in Arizona". Veto Dream Act, Deport all Hispanics to Mexico....ha..ha..ha...ha...

    February 23, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  2. Richardpr

    It seems like the Obama camp is desperate when it comes to Mitt Romney. this is purely out of context and Mitt was talking about the E-Verify part of it which is strictly implemented....

    February 23, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Contrary to conservative claims, more illegals are being stopped at the border than at any time, ever. As a result, more illegals are being deported, immediately, instead of taking them into custody once they are caught in the act.

    I still have a problem with "pathways to citizenship" that do not hold people responsible for laws that mary have been broken in order to stay in this country: i.e., unpaid taxes, false identification, etc.

    February 23, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  4. gt

    gee thats a surprise....hey lets give guns to drug dealer and then track em..opps holder tried that..ok lets get a lawsuit against arizona on illegals ...nope tried that too...yep romney is extreme....

    February 23, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  5. king

    aahhh old mittens at it again. first he said he wouldnt bail out wall street with government money during the free fall of the financial crash. that he would have allowed the banks to do it, but he refraim to mention that the banks were the ones that cause the crash and they were looking for a bail out also. this country was build on immigration, china has 6 times more spenders than we have and india has five. He is busy trying to cut spenders money and give it to the rich, leaving big businesses no choice but to go where the spenders in china and india at. lesson there is no way your going to kick 11 million people out of this country and cry about the debt in the same breath. i say let them pay back taxes to cover the debt and give them a pass of legalization. lesson reality is reality and fact is fact, wake up out of your dream world and be practical about reality.

    February 23, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  6. Hmmm

    The part of the election where Democrats forget its about the rising Gas Prices and the 15 trillion dollar debt, two issues they cannot win on!

    February 23, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Richardpr wrote:

    It seems like the Obama camp is desperate when it comes to Mitt Romney. this is purely out of context and Mitt was talking about the E-Verify part of it which is strictly implemented....
    ----------
    Desparate? Take a look at Mitt Romney's body language when he is critical of Pres. Obama. He shakes in his loafers.

    You know, we used to have something like this 30 years ago, back before we had a public world wide web. Where employers obtained identification from new employees to verify their citizenship status, and sent it in to the IRS along with the W-4. The form was called the I-9, and it was enacted during the Reagan administration when the illegal immigrant problem was people mainly coming Caribbean countries. Anyone remember the Haitian boat people?

    The history of US immigraiton has always been that immigrants come in waves, primarily from specific geographic areas, that last for 15-30 years. In the late 1980s, there was social upheaval in Central and South America. The immigrant wave shifted to people coming from Mexico, Central and South America. They were seen as cheap labor force by conservatives, as means to break unions.

    But, the I-9 form was in the way. So, gradually over a period of a decade, conservative Presidents named Bush enacted policies that rendered the I-9 moot and ineffective. Employers only needed to keep the form on file, and could toss it after 3 years of employement. They said it was a burden on the IRS and employers, which killed jobs. The illegal immigrant flood gate opened wide.

    Today, conservatives want to close the gate and put the burden on employeres once again. We are right back where we started from. Employers verifying status, and being responsible for it if the employee is not. Let's see how long this lasts.

    February 23, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. Emmy Skaddittle

    Romney knows about modeling legislation, thank Mitten for ObamaCares

    February 23, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  9. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    Mitt "I'll say anything to get elected" Romney is at it again. He would probably fli/flop on this too if he were talking to a Hispanic audience. But WAIT....Latinos won't be voting Republican,except for the Cubans in Florida anyway this year.

    February 23, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  10. ST

    The answer Romney gave about immigrants really surprised me. Not only that, even him (Romney) telling the moderator that he can answer the way he likes regardless of what question was asked on, as the moderator decides also on to what questions to ask. This made wonder and think Romney sometimes is talking for the sake of talking only.

    February 23, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy NYC
    when the illegal immigrant problem was people mainly coming Caribbean countries. Anyone remember the Haitian boat people?
    ------------------------
    Vivid and painful memories of boatloads of Haitians being turned back while boatloads of Cubans were literally ushered in and embraced.

    February 23, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ST
    "...even him (Romney) telling the moderator that he can answer the way he likes regardless of what question was asked on..."
    ------------------------
    I seem to recall Sarah Palin having the same dismissive attitude, and employing the same tactic during her so-called debates. Rules are for us not for them.

    February 23, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  13. Enough is Enough

    Romney is right since Obama is not doing his job. Obama views illegals as undocumented democrates.

    February 23, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  14. Larry L

    The solution to our immigration problem is simple. Vote in another Republican administration like the one that destroyed our economy – the Bush Administration. In just a few years they should be able to completely trash the American economy and we'll be the ones trying to sneak into Mexico to get jobs. We won't call ourselves "illegal aliens" but rather "refugees from trickle-down economics".

    February 23, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  15. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Willard is Jan Brewer in drag.

    February 23, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Larry L
    and we'll be the ones trying to sneak into Mexico to get jobs. We won't call ourselves "illegal aliens" but rather "refugees from trickle-down economics".
    ------------------------
    Don't forget sneaking into Canada. Some of us would have better luck blending into their populace so as not to be singled out in the event they pass profiling laws like Arizona has.

    February 23, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    9.vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    Mitt "I'll say anything to get elected" Romney is at it again. He would probably fli/flop on this too if he were talking to a Hispanic audience. But WAIT....Latinos won't be voting Republican,except for the Cubans in Florida anyway this year
    ------------------------
    Brother you said a mouthful, and spoke nothing but the truth.

    February 23, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  18. ARALE NORIMAKI

    Why do the pro illegal natural assume all illegal are Hispanics?

    There is a difference between Illegal and Legal immigration.  All sides of the immigration debate need to recognize that distinction in order to hold productive debate.

    other vs. Cubans: Is There A Double Standard On Illegal Aliens?

    Seems like a double standard. If you come from Cuba you are granted automatic residency, but if you come from other countries you need to have the proper documentation

    February 23, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  19. Steve851

    Immigration is one of the few issues on which the Dems are more conservative than the GOP. The GOP wants to waste billions on an unsecurable border and another ineffective government bureaucracy.

    February 23, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  20. Richardpr

    Rudy NYC

    Richardpr wrote:

    It seems like the Obama camp is desperate when it comes to Mitt Romney. this is purely out of context and Mitt was talking about the E-Verify part of it which is strictly implemented....
    ----
    Desparate? Take a look at Mitt Romney's body language when he is critical of Pres. Obama. He shakes in his loafers.

    You know, we used to have something like this 30 years ago, back before we had a public world wide web. Where employers obtained identification from new employees to verify their citizenship status, and sent it in to the IRS along with the W-4. The form was called the I-9, and it was enacted during the Reagan administration when the illegal immigrant problem was people mainly coming Caribbean countries. Anyone remember the Haitian boat people?

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Rudy,

    I have been seeing the same old from you ever since I saw your Mad Support for Obama. I-9 still exists but it is for a different purpose. The reason it started failing because of the advancement of technology which can be used to make perfectly legitimate looking documents. Where as E-Verify verifies the authenticity of the documents that has been submitted for I-9. Probably I think you need better understanding of the process before making any comment

    February 23, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Mitts is just another mean jan the Brewery with men trousers!

    February 23, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  22. Veritas

    Perhaps the GOP would get on better with Hispanics if they –

    A) Quit acting like they're all immigrants - many Hispanics' ancestors have been here longer than the candidates' own
    B) Quit acting like they care only about immigration (they probably do but in the context of illegals taking jobs, not bringing over family)
    C) Stop viewing Hispanics as only good enough to mow the lawn, pick the fruit and tend to the kids

    February 23, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Several States have passed tough immigration laws. The problem is a lot of Liberal Thinkers want to give Amensty to all illegals. The problem with that is in 20 years 20 million more will be here, wanting amensty. Isn't it nice that the Pilgrems came to the New World, built the best country that has ever been and now everybody wants a piece of the action. Well, you can get a piece of the action if you apply for citizenship and go thru the legal process. Millions are already doing it. If you don't want to go thru the legal process, point your nose to the border and follow it until you are off American Soil.

    With the cost of living going up and up and up the illegal has a impossible road to hoe. Bought gar lately? Bought Groceries lately?

    February 23, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. Sage Sophos

    Mitts is just another Jan Brewery without hops you know no taste just mean do say anything type of a mormon

    February 23, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  25. Tony

    Mitt Mitt Mitt this guy is a lyer i cannot be politically correct with this guy any longer i cannot say his statements are not factual any longer i have to say he is a lyer

    February 23, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
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