The Bible tells us to choose our friends wisely.
Last week Governor Mitt Romney chose to make friends with the hard line anti-immigrant extremists. At the same time, one of the leading anti-immigrant groups, NumbersUSA, is reportedly spending at least $100,000 in South Carolina in advance of Saturday's primary. That announcement came on the heels of an endorsement offered by nativist lawyer and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of Arizona's "show me your papers law," S.B. 1070.
NumbersUSA is no stranger to this year's GOP primary. The group, an anti-immigration creation of John Tanton, has run ads throughout the Republican debates designed to scare Americans into believing that immigration causes job loss -- a tired and discredited argument pushed by those who offer no policy solutions. Of course the ads fail to mention the many credible studies which show that immigration reform, including a pathway to lawful compliance for the millions of undocumented foreign nationals in the U.S., will add nearly a million American jobs and boost the Gross Domestic Product by as much as $1.5 trillion over the next decade.
But the radical anti-immigrant fringe has no interest fixing America's broken immigration system. That's because its mission is to end all immigration--period. Protecting American families, promoting American business, and restoring due process are not part of its plan.
Will the anti-immigrant extremists ask their new friend Mitt Romney to disavow an ad now running in South Carolina which is sponsored by Partnership for a New American Economy, the immigration reform group started by Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch and other mayors and business leaders? Using clips from previous GOP presidential debates, it claims that all the GOP candidates, including Romney, support high-skilled immigration. That position couldn't be more abhorrent to immigration restrictionists.
Why then are the restrictionists, like Kobach supporting Romney? Isn't he the same guy who recently claimed, "I love legal immigration and if I am president, we will have more of it!"? Yes, but that was back in New Hampshire when Romney was trying to appeal to more moderate GOP voters.
Apparently, what Romney said in New Hampshire stayed in New Hampshire. Now that he is in South Carolina he has fallen out of love with "legal immigration" and jumped into bed with the radical anti-immigrant fringe. Of course, Romney may be two-timing them in Florida where his immigration message carries a less radical, more Latino-friendly, tone.
Romney, true to form, may be playing all sides of the immigration issue. But by cozying up to anti-immigrant extremists he is doing more than just thumbing his nose at the Latino vote and underscoring his image as a flip-flopper who will do or say anything to get elected president. By welcoming extremists onto his team Romney is causing himself irreparable political damage which will cost him dearly should reach the general election.
What's more, Romney's short sighted campaign strategy raises serious questions about his character and fitness to be president. Romney's new restrictionist friends endeavor to impose on all of America the same ugly climate of fear they have inflicted upon Arizona and Alabama, states which have enacted draconian immigration laws they helped write. They hide behind a cleverly concocted veneer of moderation, selling themselves to the public as a reasonable voice on immigration policy. But, when carefully examined, the hate and intolerance at the core of their message is crystal clear.
Romney ought to choose his friends more wisely.
Correction: An earlier version of this blog incorrectly stated that NumbersUSA supports Governor Romney. The post has been updated. NumbersUSA hasn't endorsed Romney.