According to news reports, Mitt Romney has distanced himself from campaign manager Kris Kobach who is infamous for his anti-immigrant strategies and has hired Ed Gillespie instead. Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State, had authored Arizona’s controversial immigration enforcement-only law and had endorsed Romney in January, and had “advised Romney on immigration during his 2008 presidential bid and has long-promoted the strategy of ‘attrition through enforcement,’ the immigration-control strategy to drive away the unauthorized population by making their lives so miserable that they will choose to “self-deport” rather than remain in the U.S.” according to the Immigration Policy Center. The Hill reported that Romney’s hiring of Republican strategist Ed Gillespie is being seen as a sign the campaign will heavily court Hispanic voters, perhaps at the expense of immigration hard-liners within the Republican Party.
Ed Gillespie is a former head of the Republican National Committee and has long advocated an aggressive outreach to the Hispanic community. He also leads an organization focused on messaging to independents, including Hispanic swing voters, named Resurgent Republic. This organization is currently developing a six part “target voter series” focused on suburban women, young voters, seniors, independents, Hispanics and blue collar Catholics. Clearly, Romney is looking to gain a position that would strengthen Romney’s appeal to Latino voters come election day. When questioned on whether a path should be created for undocumented immigrants to become legal, Gillespie answered: “I think there are requirements we could put in place for people who have, you know, been law-abiding citizens, have worked in their jobs, have contributed to their communities. But I also think we have to understand if they’re here by virtue of having come here illegally and violated our laws, I’m not sure that should be rewarded with citizenship.” The views of Gillespie are definitely more in tune with what the Republican candidate needs to help win him the support of the immigrant demographic.