“The Republican Party has got to reintroduce itself to the Hispanic community and seriously address immigration, and it has got to happen for both economic reasons and the political health of the party,” Norquist said. “Too many voices in the Republican Party have come across as shrill and harsh. They thought they were discussing immigration, but what Hispanics were hearing was, ‘I wish you weren’t here.’ ”
The story of the Hispanic vote in 2012 is, in many ways, the story of this presidential campaign.
Seeking a wedge issue that would allow him to outflank his more conservative rivals in the Republican primary, Romney seized on illegal immigration. He hammered Gov. for backing college-tuition breaks for the children of illegal immigrants, and he bashed Newt Gingrich for supporting “amnesty.” Romney vowed to veto a Democratic version of the Dream Act that would legalize the presence of children brought illegally to the U.S. and advocated “self-deportation” of undocumented workers. His tough rhetoric played well with white conservatives who dominate Republican primaries but sank his ratings with Hispanic voters.
For months, the Romney campaign insisted that the struggling economy would drag down Obama’s appeal among Hispanics and other swing voters. No matter that Obama and his allies were pounding Romney on Spanish media. No need for Romney to make targeted appeals to Hispanics, beyond pointing to the higher unemployment rate in their community. The highest-profile Hispanic elected official in the country and the grassroots favorite to be Romney’s pick for vice president, Sen. of Florida, was passed over in favor of of .