Romney campaign may be moving left on immigration

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Orlando, Fla. (Pic by Gage Skidmore, via Flickr)

Mitt Romney’s campaign hired GOP campaign strategist Ed Gillespie, while Kris Kobach’s “advisor” status was put in doubt, according to news reports.

Elise Floey of Huffington Post wrote Tuesday that the Romney campaign “told Politico that [Kris] Kobach is a ‘supporter,’ not an adviser. This contradicts both Kobach’s previous statements and his seemingly larger role in the campaign — a bigger part than the campaign is letting on.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach authored Arizona’s controversial immigration enforcement-only law. He endorsed Romney in January, “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 ‘deport themselves’ rather than remain in the U.S.,” according to the Immigration Policy Center.

The Hill reported Tuesday 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 in the party.”

“When asked for an interview, Gillespie directed The Hill to Romney’s presidential campaign, which said he’d be a senior adviser that will help them with messaging, overall strategy and the August convention in Tampa, Fla,” The Hill added.

“Gillespie, a former head of the Republican National Committee, has long advocated an aggressive outreach to the Hispanic community,” The Hill wrote. “He also heads up Resurgent Republic, an organization focused on messaging to independents, including Hispanic swing voters.”

Resurgent Republic is currently developing a six part “target voter series” focused on suburban women, young voters, seniors, independents, Hispanics and blue collar Catholics.

Immigration and how to handle undocumented immigrants has the GOP looking for a position that would strengthen Romney’s appeal to Latino voters in November.

Gillespie said on CNBC’s The Kudlow Report in early April that “there should be a path to legalization,” but, “I’m not sure there should be a path to citizenship.”

“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,” Gillespie said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who endorsed Romney earlier this year, has said he is drafting a conservative alternative of the DREAM Act.

The current version of the DREAM Act, which Rubio does not support, would grant those who entered the U.S. illegally before the age of 16 conditional permanent resident status for a period of six years, after which they would be eligible to become legal permanent residents if they obtain at least an associate-level college degree or serve in the military for two years.

According to the Associated Press, “Rubio said he has not talked to the Romney campaign about his plan but definitely would. ‘He’s our nominee and I think it’s important for him to feel comfortable with and be supportive of whatever endeavor we pursue,’ the senator said.”

In related news, the Republican National Committee this week appointed media consultant Lisbeth Norris-Cohen to the position of outreach director to the Latino community in Colorado, a move that was met with a swift response from Colorado Democratic Party Chair Rick Palacio, who called the move “an empty gesture.”

His complete statement:

“It’s clear National Republicans are desperate to win over the very same Latinos their extreme, out-of-touch policies would hurt most. This latest empty gesture is nothing more than ‘window dressing’ for a GOP agenda that is on the wrong side of every issue important to Colorado Latinos.

“Over the past three years, President Obama has fought to provide over 150,000 more Latino students with the means to go to college, expand access to quality, affordable health care for up to 9 million Hispanics, and fought to pass comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act.

“On the other hand, National Republicans have promised to slash funding for education, Medicare, and Social Security and have stubbornly opposed the DREAM Act and a path to citizenship for immigrants. In fact, Mitt Romney said all undocumented immigrants should self-deport and called the anti-immigrant Arizona immigration law a ‘model’ for the nation.’

“The RNC’s new Colorado point person for Hispanic issues should be ready to explain why the Republican Party has embraced a Tea Party agenda that would disproportionately hurt Colorado Latinos.”

Scot Kersgaard contributed to this article.