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N2K Presidential Race: Immigration as a 'Cancer' on the GOP N2K Presidential Race: Immigration as a 'Cancer' on the GOP

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CAMPAIGN 2012

N2K Presidential Race: Immigration as a 'Cancer' on the GOP

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"Right to Dream" students and supporters block the street outside the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles to celebrate the Obama administration's decision to stop deporting younger illegal immigrants.(AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Addressing the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials on Thursday, Mitt Romney gets another crack at immigration policy. And, as he showed on Tuesday in quickly rejecting reports that he’d discarded Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida from his running-mate ruminations, Romney knows he needs Hispanic voters.

But that doesn’t mean he can get them, and there’s a worthwhile line to draw to another policy solution evading Washington. Compare the Cassandra-like admonitions from the run-their-last-races wise men and women in both parties about the national debt -- former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles compared it to a “cancer” -- to the alarmed counsel from the run-their-last-races Republican mandarins about immigration.

The rhetoric and counsel are strikingly similar: endure the short-term political discomfort for the sake of the fruit borne in what budget analysts term “the out years.” Mitt Romney’s campaign is in fits to message his immigration stance properly. After denouncing the Dream Act during the primaries, he’s now been wedged by President Obama into a trap of the most dangerous kind: evolve or forsake a significant swath of the electorate. Evolving, of course, has gotten Romney in trouble before.

Much of this pain could have been avoided if congressional Republicans had swallowed George W. Bush’s immigration proposals, or gone along with Senate Democrats’ push last year on the Dream Act. But they didn’t, Romney was baited to the right in the primaries -- indeed, helped dispatch Texas Gov. Rick Perry by painting him as soft on immigration -- and now they face days like today. Trying to drive a legitimate and widely accepted narrative about Obama’s woes on the economy, the campaign was again tripped up by immigration questions.

But, as with Congress and fiscal matters, he’ll have to choose between feeling good in the short term, or staying salubrious in the out years.

-- Jim O’Sullivan
@JOSullivanNatJo

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The Eight States Where Latinos Could Sink the GOP  
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Romney's Path to the Presidency Veers in a New Direction
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Romney Campaign Press Calls Gives Twitter Grist to Democrats
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Obama Campaign: Mitt Romney Is ‘Rooting’ for a Worse Economy
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Conservative Gay-Rights Group Endorses Romney
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Asian-Americans a Fast-Growing Group in Key States
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