Following Mitt Romney’s failure to attract a meaningful share of Latino voters, the GOP may be ready to change its tune on immigration.
While adopting harsh immigration positions to appeal to the GOP’s right wing, Romney continuously droned out the message that Latinos are more concerned with the economy than immigration and used the term "illegals" to describe the undocumented population when the thorny issue of immigration became unavoidable. But after Romney won just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote on Tuesday, the lowest for a Republican presidential candidate since Bob Dole in 1996, a growing number of conservatives want to put the ugly immigration debate behind them.
After all, George W. Bush, who attempted to forge a bipartisan immigration bill, won 44 percent of the Latino vote when he was reelected in 2004.Bush managed to capture a larger share of the Latino vote than any Republican in recent history.
House speaker John Boehner told ABC News Thursday that he feels confident that Congress can work on immigration reform with the White House. That’s a big change from this spring, when Boehner didn’t even think Marco Rubio’s DREAM Act alternative could get through the GOP-controlled House.
The political momentum may get a push from Fox News. Conservative radio and television show host Sean Hannity, who has traditionally maintained a hard-line on immigration, pulled back after Romney’s defeat:
We've gotta get rid of the immigration issue altogether. It's simple for me to fix it. I think you control the border first, you create a pathway for those people that are here, you don't say you gotta home. And that is a position that I've evolved on. Because you know what -- it just -- it's gotta be resolved. The majority of people here -- if some people have criminal records you can send' em home -- but if people are here, law-abiding, participating, for years, their kids are born here... first secure the border, pathway to citizenship... then it's done. But you can't let the problem continue. It's gotta stop.
Hannity’s not the only Fox News insider thinking about immigration now that the power of the Hispanic vote has become so obvious. News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch tweeted:
The clear turnabout in influential Republican circles may be driven by more than compassion. Had Romney won just 35 percent of the Latino vote, President Barack Obama would have lost the popular vote, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the polling firm Latino Decisions.