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Dog-Whistling on Immigration Through Endorsements Dog-Whistling on Immigration Through Endorsements

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Dog-Whistling on Immigration Through Endorsements

November 29, 2011
For a fascinating study in contrasts, consider the dueling endorsements trotted out today by Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

Romney, who has taken a hardline position on immigration that emphasizes border security above all else, campaigned this morning in Miami with three current and former Cuban-American members of Congress who have all championed legislation that would offer a illegal immigrants a pathway to cititzenship. It's a coup for Romney to bring on board Mario Diaz-Balart, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, all of whom endorsed John McCain in the last election. Their support sends a message to the Hispanic community: We may not agree with him on immigration, but he's not a hater like Tom Tancredo, either.

While Romney takes advantage of the optics of campaigning in sunny Florida amid guava and papaya, Perry is stumping today in brisk New Hampshire with "America's toughest sheriff,'' Joe Arpaio. (Even the location, Joey's Diner, sounds tough.) Perry is hoping the hard-bitten, border-state lawman will counteract the perception that he's weak on immigration because of his support for in-state tutition rates for the children of illegal immigrants. Arpaio's endorsement is a signal to non-Hispanics: We may not like his tuition policy, but he's no softie when it comes to border security.

So to review: Romney trying to soften his image a bit; Perry trying to toughen his up.

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