(CNN) – The man who led Mitt Romney's outreach to Hispanic voters said Sunday the candidate "made some mistakes" during his campaign that ultimately led to a precipitous drop in Latino support.
Carlos Gutierrez, the former secretary of commerce, blamed the Republican primary process, which he said forced Romney to harden his immigration stance in an appeal to the far-right wing of the Republican Party.
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"Mitt Romney made some mistakes," Gutierrez told CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash on "State of the Union." "I think he is an extraordinary man, and I think he made an extraordinary candidate. I think Mitt Romney's comments are a symptom. I think the disease is the fact that the far right of the party controls the primary process."
On immigration, Romney often sought to balance his positions in ways that appealed both to Hispanic voters and the base of the Republican Party.
In December, Romney vowed to veto the DREAM Act if he became president, saying instead he would support a path to residency - not citizenship - for undocumented immigrants who served in the military, but not other DREAM Act proposals.
Later, Romney gave a more detailed version of his stance, telling supporters at a fund-raiser in Florida that Republicans needed to offer their own version of the DREAM Act.
At a Republican presidential debate in January, Romney said he favored a system 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. That stance was derided both by Democrats and his Republican rivals.
Speaking Sunday, Gutierrez said Latino voters were scared of a Republican Party they regarded as anti-immigrant and downright xenophobic.
"They were scared of the anti-immigration talk. They were scared of xenophobes. It's almost as if we're living in the past," Gutierrez added.
The proof, he said, was in the way Latinos voted: 27% cast ballots for Romney, compared to 31% who voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008 and 44% who supported George W. Bush in 2004.
"I would lay the blame squarely on the far-right wing of the Republican Party," Gutierrez said.
Evangelical leader Gary Bauer said Sunday that the opposite was true, pinning Romney's loss on a party too focused on appealing to moderate voters.
"I think it's due, at least in part, to folks in our party that seem intent on attacking the fact that we're the conservative party in the United States," Bauer said, pointing specifically to the issue of abortion, which he said should have played a larger role in the 2012 campaign.
"There's no yearning by the American people for a second pro-abortion party. I mean, we've already got one of those," he said.
If Romney was such a successful business man, how could he not appreciate what the polls were saying? Bill Clinton said it best, ARITHMATIC. The numbers say it all, you just have to look.
rspredbury you are correct. Romney would sell his grandmother and his soul to become president. Its true the primaries are so right wing that anyone who makes it to the nomination process is too far right to be voted into power by the rest of the country... FACT. If he stayed moderate he would have won, but he couldnt get the nominatioon without pandering to the extreme wingnuts... this is going to continue until the party breaks into two and gets rid of the tea party fridge.
The primary process is controlled by the most fervent supporters, left and right. That being said, no candidate should throw their integrity out the door for votes; John Huntsman & Ron Paul suffered from their honesty and integrity during the earlier stages, and as a result the Mitt wanted to ride any popular wave to win. Moral of the story: stay focused.
Yes, I agree that Mr. Norquist needs to be silenced. I am glad peope are finally standing up to the GOP bad behavior. They should not be let off the hook until they can get their act together and face true facts! Noquist is dangerous!!
The fact that Romney had to take a hard line on immigration during the primaries doesn't constitute a mistake on the part of Romney, but a reality in the GOP that is preventing them winning elections. The GOP needs to stop trying to redefine what "center-right" means, calling anything that used to be moderate socialism, communism, and any other 'ism that they can think of. The extremes to which Republicans must go to win a primary puts then at a strong disadvantage in trying to appeal to moderates and independents. McCain would have had a better chance with a running mate like Tom Ridge. Romney would have had a better chance is the primary hadn't been an anyone-but-Romney-fest for so long.
Republican right to life ends at birth. Once born, the repubs do not care on little bit about them, which is quite obvious by their positions about social justice. As a Catholic, I'm appalled at Ryan's "plan" and his total ignorance of all Jesus taught about social justice. Romney should be ashamed of himself for his own positions. The 'let them eat cake' attitude is what killed the election for them.