Romney's Hispanic chairman says candidate made mistakes
November 11th, 2012
11:09 AM ET
9 years ago

Romney's Hispanic chairman says candidate made mistakes

(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.

Filed under: 2012 • Latinos • Mitt Romney
soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. In Florida

    No one "forced Romney to harden his immigration stance"............Romney's willingness to do ANYTHING to get the nomination is what lost the election for him. Nominees from both parties need to step up to the plate and win or lose on what they believe, not on what they imagine the elecorate wants to hear. Stop the pandering!

    November 12, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  2. mario

    Ben is right there are many different nationalities when it comes down to latinos but one thing that makes us apart is we allway tried to help our fellows brothers regarless of color we love this country we look ta our president and think of him as someone who cares about all of its citizens someone whiling to help someone fair , I heard in the news that 50.000 latinos turn 18 every month the country is changing becouse of its ideas and beliefs the Democratic party will always be the first choice among our voter and please dont make sound like all we care is about inmigration reform couse if you do you missing the point our number one priority will allway be the wellbeing of our country and its ability to govern its people minorities means more than latino votes its all kinds of people from different countries that makes this THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA great

    November 12, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. K

    Mr. Gutierrez is simply wrong. It's not the primary process that is flawed. If he was a bit more introspective he might realize that Mr. Romney was not obliged to cater to the primary process. But he caved almost immediately instead of standing up for what he believes. Not standing up for what you believe is the problem!

    November 12, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  4. jayce12341

    I think the Republican Party has to look more like democrats to win. You know a "wolf in sheep's clothes".

    November 12, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  5. Tom

    I partially agree with Gutierrez. A big part of the reason the last two presidential election cycles have been so dominated by the extreme right wing of the party is because the chances of actually winning have been fairly low. Consequently the quality of Republican candidates has been weak. Republicans will have their strongest opportunity in 2016 of re-taking the White House and I suspect the field of candidates will likely reflect that opportunity. As a result, some of the right-wing extremism might naturally be minimized because the more extreme candidates will probably drop out of the race early. Where I agree with Gutierrez is the Republican party needs to rethink its relationship with the conservative media. Today the face of the Republican party is mostly a collection of conservative pundits, bloggers and broadcasters who are driven more by ratings (or clicks) than policy. Controversy and outrage drives up ratings, so the right-wing ideology keeps moving to more extreme positions, nutty conspiracy theories and frantic fist pounding. The Republican party needs to differentiate, and distance, itself from the extremists. The Nov. 6 election demonstrated there just aren't enough angry (mostly white) right-wing zealots to swing national elections. If the Republican party is to survive it has to become more inclusive and extend its message beyond the usual cadre of wedge issues that dominate conservative media.

    November 12, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  6. derty ernie

    I still believe the underlying reason Romney lost was due to people wanting to keep their stuff and being afraid someone (Romney/republicants) would take their stuff: reduction in food stamps, welfare rolls, medicare, etc.
    With that said, let's keep in mine were talking about a guy who planned for over three years for this moment. He had ample time to meet with experts on foreign policy, Hispanic Culture and just flat out hammer out a message that would encourage peope to vote for him.
    Yes he got it right it was about jobs. jobs and jobs. The problemo. The people that costs him the election don't have and or don't care about jobs. College students, welfare recipients, etc. They want stuff and he offered them nothing and rather scared the hell out of them. He also alienated Hispanics. His advisors should have said, screw the conservatives and get a message of hope and understanding out to the hispanics. Talk citizenship, do whatever it takes to at least neutralize Obama's grip.
    He did neither and I have to think he was advised on the above and cowtowed to the right wing of the party.

    November 12, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  7. Bob

    No surprise that the tea party lost the election for Romney. Hopefully the "old" republican party members will come to accept the reality that extremes – within either party – do not an election victory make.

    November 12, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  8. WachetAuf

    The GOP will double down on its rigid right wing views. There will be a renewed "Cultural Revolution" fought by its core true beleivers. They will continue weeding out all moderates, nominating only other true believers. Mr. Romney was nominated only when Mr. Romney convinced the rigid right wing that he is a "severe conservative", a true believer. He was not, but it was his only path to the Presidency and the one he took. Mr. Romney, they believe, lost because he lost sight of the holy grail by portraying a more moderate persona in the last stages of the election. The new Cultural Revolution will energize the base, Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Limbaugh, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, Rand Paul, John Galt, Neitzsche and their followers.

    November 12, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. manyote

    The GOP has devolved into something like an ex-significant other that can't get over it and just keeps bugging the ef out of you.

    November 12, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  10. Lee

    If the far-right wing of the GOP is really concerned primarily with abortion, then they should focus on that, rather than also being anti-immigrant.

    November 12, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  11. Dionysus86

    So basically, he said whatever he thought would get him elected? Yea we already knew that.

    November 12, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  12. janer52

    the extremists need to go bye-bye. the GOP will never win the white house if the current trend continues. news flash: most americans are not extremists; we are moderates. the ultra-right wing are the well-funded vocal minority.

    November 12, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  13. tom wittmann

    Romneys "mistake" was simply to be a person willing to say anything to reach the presidency and even if the GOP backers are certainly not the highest IQ holders in the US, to overestimate their willingness to tolerate his flip-flopping.

    This, added to his very clear lacking qualification to be a president, as his abilities are concentrated in financial manipulation.

    Both BAUER and GUTIERREZ are right. His willingness to cater from one side of the mouth to the outrageous ULTRARIGHT, repealing the reasonable traditional Goppers and independents, and from the other posing later as a moderate, which recuperated some of the latter (not many believed it) but erased the enthusiasm of the right wingers were the main factors of his demise

    By the way: any assessment of the vote shows that he would HAVE LOST EVEN IF LATINOS had supported him as far as McCain, even by a quite smaller margin


    November 12, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. russ

    Romney might have been a good president, but I guess we'll never know. Thanks Tea Party!

    November 12, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. Catherine

    Romney failed because he had a low opinion of the electorate. He thought we were stupid. He believed he could say one thing to some of the people and then the very next day contradict himself and say something else to another crowd. The electorate does NOT have an Etch-a-Sketch memory. Also an American president needs to represent ALL people, not just the far-right. All this coupled with the stupid remarks Repubicans have made nationwide and the move to suppress the vote by Republican governors is what damaged the brand. NO ONE should have to wait in line for 8 hrs. to vote in this country...NO ONE. No one who has been voting for years at the same polling place should have to reregister to vote. NO ONE. No one should be able to buy an election. Did you hear that Supreme Court and Citizens United? NO ONE.

    November 12, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  16. DC from NJ

    To "In Florida",

    I totally agree with you. Your opinion on the issues should not change depending on who you are talking to. This explains why the GOP's best potential candidate (John Huntsman) got NOWHERE in the primaries – he refused to change his moderate positions to compete for the Republican nomination. Today's GOP is controlled by people whose views are far from the mainstream. It's amazing to me that Romney got as many votes as he did in the general election.

    November 12, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Gutierrez said the GOP nominating contests forced candidates, including Romney, to say "outrageous things."
    You kidding me right?
    Nobody forces you to say the hateful things that Romney said not only about Hispanics, but about poor people in general (47%ers), about women, about Blacks. NOBODY.
    Nobody forced Romney to demonstrate an almost uncontrollable taste and propensity for LYING when the truth would've served him better. Even in the last 72 hours of the campaign Romney maintained his USELESS and unnecessary lies about Jeep even against plenty of the proof to the contrary.
    The GOP needs to stop cioming up with the lame excuses.
    They said that WHEN Romney won with over 300 electoral votes it would be a mandate. Well guess what. the President won with well over 330 electoral votes. It is a mandate against the GOP, a mandate in complete support of the President and his platform, and of him as a man of character and whom we want ot lead us in times of peace and war.
    You screwed everyone GOP. You disrespected every possiblde group in this country with the exception of old White racists and their brood.
    And in the process you royally screwed yourselves into near-extinction all you need is one more push and you're going to go over the proverbial cliff.
    Don't stand too close to me.

    November 12, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  18. rbnlegend101

    Reading the comments here, it looks like the republicans have to lose again before they get it. Lets hope that next time they get their dream candidate, one who really is harcore way way right conservative, born with a bible in one hand, and a billion in the other, with his head lodged firmly in his closed little worldview. Lets hope he gets himself nominated on a platform of pure fire and brimstone. And then when the democrats win the white house again, maybe that will be enough for the republicans to cast out the crazies and build a real, viable, conservative party.

    We need a party that works for smaller government and balanced budgets and less government intrusion, and even protects business from the excess of government, without giving business free reign to commit suicide in order achieve good metrics this quarter. What we have is ap arty that is still pushing their vision of culture wars.

    November 12, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  19. ray

    bottom line here is romney and his family are all liars at the highest level, romney is a racists, flip flopper and ahypocrite at the highest level so no wonder he lost

    November 12, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. Wake up People!

    I agree with In Florida. No one FORCED Willard to change his views. He changed them because he has absolutely NO problem with Lying. He changed them because more than ANYTHING in this world he wanted the title of POTUS. Actually he acted a lot like a pros.ti.tute, saying and doing anything to win.

    Also he and Ann acting as if they were"entitled" to the presidency didn't help either.
    That constant smirk, that stiff puppet like walk and the fact that he was one of the worst governors in history were also marks against him.
    Bain didn't help either.

    November 12, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. Similar12313

    Hardening his immigration stance was a choice, not a mandate. The American people want to see where a candidate stands on issues. We saw what Romney stood for. We saw what Obama stands for. We made a choice.

    November 12, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    Bauer is delusional: Romney began to close the gap after the first debate when he was finally able to show the world that he was not Satan incarnate: the problem with that performance was that it was just that, a performance that he spent weeks rehearsing for. Romney was a remarkably undisiplined candidate, a man who gave his handlers nightmares with his gaffes and aristocratic displays. It was not that he was not conservative enough: he was not disciplined enough. The sad thing for the GOP is that he was the best they could produce: Cain, Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich and Santorum were remarkably undisciplined, ill-informed, and barren of solutions that represented a clear break from the failures of the past in the GOP. They need to get out of the echo chamber and listen to EVERYBODY, or they will just keep preaching to an ever-shrinking choir.

    November 12, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  23. Lenny Pincus

    Really? Romney made mistakes?

    November 12, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  24. Curt

    Lets put the blame where it belongs. Romney lost because you can't believe him. He kept changing his views on critical items to suit the audience he was talking to and refused to answer some questions for fear it would scare people away. It also didn't help that you had idiots like Trump, Palin, Guiliani and others stirring up the pot. Maybe its time for more political parties since the Republicans seemed to be controlled by right wing agenda. We need some politicians that are willing to work for whats best for the country and not whats best for the special interest groups and their party platform.

    November 12, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. DrLainey

    derty ernie, your statement is indicative of what is wrong with the Republican party. Your statement that it was people who don't want to give up their stuff didn't vote for Romney is absolutely wrong. Those who receive food stamps and welfare would much rather earn enough money that they didn't need to rely on food stamps. Additionally, those receiving welfare are limited to a five-year lifetime limit on welfare (unless one is elderly or disabled). Most of those receiving welfare are on it about one year; many receive it less than six months. Yes, there are a few who abuse the system; however, those are the exception rather than the rule. When it comes to Medicare, as a senior, I know that I am paying twice the amount for my Medicare B and supplemental insurance than I did for insurance when I was working. Medicare Part A, for which I paid my entire working life, pays only for hospital care. For additional Part B care, one must pay $100.00 and up, depending on income. But that doesn't cover all expenses, so, must also purchase additional coverage for another $100.00 plus each month. So, until Republicans stop thinking of the Democratic Party as the "let's give them stuff" party, they will never get it right.

    November 12, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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