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."
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