Tampa, Florida (CNN) - Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and popular surrogate for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said Wednesday that Romney's past endorsement of a system he termed "self-deportation" was a poor way to characterize border security efforts.
"It gets to the question of tone, again," Bush said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." "I think there's a better way of saying we need to control the border. Great countries need to secure the border for national security purposes, for economic purposes and for rule of law purposes. And you can say that in a respectful way so you're not turning people off. And that's my basic message."
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Republicans, who persistently face a deficit among Latino voters, must work harder to appeal to the important and growing voting bloc, including recognizing that the country's demographics are undergoing swift change.
"In order to govern with conservative principles, you have to win," Bush said. "In order to win, you have to recognize that the country is changing. We're getting older. And we're getting more diverse in our population."
Latino voters are considered key to winning the 2012 presidential election since they make up an increasing large chunk of the American electorate. They also represent a significant part of the population in several important swing states, including Florida, Nevada and Colorado.
In 2008, Latino voters went for President Barack Obama over Sen. John McCain 67%-31%. A Gallup survey conducted in August indicated 61% of registered Hispanic voters back President Barack Obama, compared to 29% who support Romney.
Romney has spoken out on immigration issues at various points in the Republican primary process, often finding himself at odds with more moderate voices within his own party. In December, Romney said he would veto the DREAM act, a measure that would offer a path to citizenship for minors in the country illegally, providing they served in the armed forces or attended college.
At a debate in January, Romney said he was in favor of "self-deportation," a policy that involves making economic conditions so difficult for undocumented workers that they choose to leave the country to find better opportunities.
Bush said at a panel discussion in Tampa this week Republicans were "acting stupid" by not embracing a more welcoming tone toward Latinos and other immigrants.
In his CNN interview, Bush said the GOP needed to take a longer-term view of how they speak about immigration issues.
"Over the long haul as we change demographically as a country, Latino issues become a bigger and bigger part of the scene and operation, you're going to have the need to change the tone on many issues," Bush said.
Key to changing that tone, Bush said, is turning the discussion back to economic issues that ultimately affect every American, including Latinos.
"I think the focus ought to be on aspirational messages that are more hopeful and optimistic," he said. "Economic growth over a sustained period of time. Building capacity for people, particularly the newly arrived so they can make a contribution to our country. Get the border control issues correct. But let's move beyond that to create sustained economic growth for a majority of people."
Why do politicians attack the most vulunerable people for political points and then talk about their values, the values of human life, the values of religion, etc.
Flip flopping Romney can't walk back inflammatory red meat statements targeted at the most intolerant anti-immigrants supporters in his party. After a year of bashing Hispanics, any attempts to moderate his position appears dishonest.
In the end, his approach is the same as President Obama's. Hmmm.
At the end of the day we really must look back at history, accept the Native American Indians owned this land, the Spaniards occupied their land as did the French and eventually the British but it is still the land of the Native American Indians and they should have a saying yet I never hear anyone mention the Indians of the United States. We worry about the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Latin Americans and African Americans but we don't worry about our native indians, how come????????????
Romney is against the Dream Act, but all for Rubio's idea.....which is the Dream Act.
Mitt.....the guy has not been for a position that he can't be against later.
They are truly crawling out of their hole in the wall aren't they? Jeb, don't worry, you are NEVER going to be elected president and that goes for the altar boy in 2016 or fatso from NJ.
Just keep talking gibberish like your brother. So much for being the intellegent one in the family.
Republicans dont need minority voters. Watch this fall the Republicans will win in a landslide.
Kind words Jeb but self-deportation has nothing to do with securing the borders, it's after the fact. You let Mitt off easy but then again, you're a Bush.
Jeb Bush explaining what Mitt Romney means. Why do these men think they have to speak for him at all. Most of us can draw our own conclusions. Many people do know exactly what Mitt Romney has been saying. As governor of MA he ignored the whole western part of the state. Of course, there will be someone who will tells us all that Mr. Romney cared about the whole state. Funny,,he served one term and started campaigning for president before his term was up.
Romney's "self-deportation" plan might work if he follows the Ryan Budget scheme. When America's economy is completely destroyed by the Romney/Ryan Fat-Cat Tax Plan and the middle-class is pushed into deep poverty many of them may try to immigrate to other counties – like Mexico. If Romney can make America really suck – people might "self-deport".
please:( not another bush.
Jeb Bush? Is he still around?
Romney twisted himself into a tight pretzel trying to pander to the hard right while not dropping below about 25% of the Hispanic/Latino vote. Mittens truly doesn't know what he believes about illegal immigrants, if he believes anything.
Being that I am the only ex-foreigner U.S. Citizen posting a comment I think that people wanting to enter the U.S. should follow the laws of immigration just like Mexico would expect us to follow theirs. I say Mexico because this argument is really about Mexicans, you never see the networks cover any other illegal immigrants. Even the Democratic National Convention has invited Eva Langoria to speak who is Mexican descend but you don't see a Nicaraguan, Colombian, Hondurian, Peruvian etc... invited to speak. I think this is about Mexicans because they are big in numbers and their vote could carry a Democrat to the White House.