For those outside of California that are not familiar with the “Steve Poisoner effect”, here’s a quick summary. Steve Poizner was the candidate for Governor of California that poisoned the 2010 Republican primaries with vile anti-immigrant rhetoric. In the end he did not only lose the nomination of his party, but arguably he ended up costing Republicans the governorship in California because Latinos lashed out at the GOP at the ballot box. Are we witnessing the same dynamic play out in the national Republican primary field with Mitt Romney? Has Romney become the new Steve Poizner? Romney has gone the “Poisoner” route and has started to attack immigrants and Governor Perry on immigration reform legislation like in-state tuition for young students that have grown up here in the U.S. but happen to be undocumented.
For the record, while Perry has said that he supports in-state tuition for youth that have grown up in Texas but lack the proper documentation, he has actually said that he opposes the Dream Act. which is a topic charged with emotions among Latinos because we’re talking about Latino youth. After all, Latino voters still remember watching these heartbreaking images of their community’s youth crying after conservatives in both parties blocked passage of the Dream Act:
Romney not only has an ad out attacking Perry trying to link him to former President Fox on immigration, but supporters of Romney’s position are now going racist full force “protesting” Perry. Via ThinkProgress:
Conservative activists protested Rick Perry’s support for allowing children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state university tuition outside a town hall in Derry, New Hampshire this evening. In order to underscore their point, one woman wore a poncho and sombrero while holding a sign that read “Thanks for the in-state tuition”.
As mentioned previously, Perry has NOT been a friend of immigrants as Romney would lead the general public to believe. Not only does Perry oppose the DREAM Act, but he has been reportedly courting the endorsement of infamous Sheriff Arpaio. Arizona Sheriff Arpaio has been caught in the past as “pal’ing around” with neo-nazis in the past and has more recently been quoted as saying of Perry “I kind of like the guy”. If both Romney and Perry make the assumption that spewing hate mongering rhetoric against immigrants during the Republican primaries will not come back to bite them in the general election against President Obama, they are both in for an “October surprise”. As the advocacy organization America’s Voice put it:
Among the leaders for the GOP nomination, there are no immigration moderates. None of them support the DREAM Act. None of them. The DREAM Act is a common sense proposal that would enable some of the Latino community’s best and brightest to attend college, serve in the military and earn citizenship. None of them support comprehensive immigration reform, a centrist solution to the nation’s immigration mess. And none of them have the guts to stand up the hardcore nativists in the party the way Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush did [click here to view video of both Reagan & Bush Sr. discussing immigration].
If GOP strategists hope that Rick Perry and/or Marco Rubio will win the hearts of Latino voters with their support of in-state tuition, they are in for a rude awakening. When it comes to in-state tuition and the DREAM Act, you can’t split the baby — or the student, as the case may be.