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September 30, 2011 4:30 PM When Romney relies on anti-Latino animus

By Steve Benen

A Republican consultant recently said Rick Perry wins elections, not because he is loved, but because “he sticks a fork in his opponent’s eyeballs.”

This new video suggests it’s Mitt Romney handling the flatware.

For those who can’t watch videos online, the new clip from the Romney campaign focuses on — what else? — Perry’s policy in Texas that offers in-state tuition to children of undocumented immigrants. It was probably the one humane thing Perry has done as governor, and Romney intends to make him pay for it.

What’s notable about the spot isn’t just Romney using the issue, it’s how. The video includes a lengthy quote from Mexican President Vicente Fox praising Perry for doing the right thing. And as Jon Chait explained, “Fox is quoted at length praising Perry, and his praise stands on its own as an indictment — anything that a Mexican would like must be wrong.”

This is pretty ugly stuff. The underlying message of the video — it’s name is “Thank you, Governor Perry” — isn’t at all subtle. This is playing on right-wing animus towards Latino immigrants, plain and simple.

If Romney does expect to be the Republican presidential nominee, here’s hoping Latino voters don’t forget what he did to win that nomination.

What’s more, I realize there’s a contingent, even in the some liberal circles, that believes Romney is one of the more reasonable and less offensive candidates in the GOP field. After a video like this one, it may be time for that contingent to reconsider.

Update: Michael Gerson reflects on the video.

[P]erhaps most disturbing is the tone of the Romney ad itself. It is not simply an issue-oriented contrast. It uses a statement praising Perry by former Mexican President Vincente Fox as though it were an endorsement by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The last time I checked, Mexico was an important ally — a country that Romney, if elected president, would need to deal with daily. Fox’s words in the commercial are innocuous - simply thanking Texas and Perry for the education measure they had passed. So why is Fox’s statement supposed to be disturbing or sinister? Because Fox is a foreigner? Because he has a Mexican accent?

This is really an ad one would expect of Tancredo, not Romney. Mitt Romney is better than this. He just needs to act like it.

I’ve seen no evidence that Romney is, in fact, better than this.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • low-tech cyclist on September 30, 2011 4:35 PM:

    Romney IS one of the more reasonable and less offensive candidates in the GOP field. That is still true. That's what's so scary.

  • T2 on September 30, 2011 4:37 PM:

    Romney is very smart to be the first eye-ball poker. Perry is as dirty a politician as they come, but if Romney can keep him back-peddling and playing defense, he (Romney) will be doing what no Texas pol has been able to do.

  • SYSPROG on September 30, 2011 4:49 PM:

    I'm sorry...he may BE the least offensive of the GOP candidates but he is a souless ghoul that has absolutely no values or beliefs. He is yet another entitled son that wants to achieve MORE than Daddy. Can't we be DONE with them?

  • cmdicely on September 30, 2011 4:53 PM:

    The video includes a lengthy quote from Mexican President Vicente Fox praising Perry for doing the right thing. And as Jon Chait explained, “Fox is quoted at length praising Perry, and his praise stands on its own as an indictment — anything that a Mexican would like must be wrong.”

    Well, it certainly rests on the viewer feeling that anything that Vicente Fox would like must be wrong, but the fact that Vicente Fox is a Mexican isn't the only plausible reason one might believe that.

    Though I doubt Republican primary voters are generally either knowledgeable enough about Mexican political parties or ideologically inclined to dismiss anything Fox likes because he is the past leader of right-wing, anti-choice, anti-marriage-equality, pro-privatization-of-public-institutions party.

  • KurtRex1453 on September 30, 2011 4:55 PM:

    First, they came for hispanics...

  • gelfling545 on September 30, 2011 4:57 PM:

    I was at a meeting a couple of weeks ago with a woman who works for an agency that helps perfectly legal recent immigrants become settled/acclimatized in the US and in our area. One thing that has been making her practically froth at the mouth is the assumption of people in the community that immigrant must always be preceded by illegal and why don't they go back where they came from and so on and so forth far into the night. I think the point is that there are a lot of people who get upset when someone who is not them gets anything at all.

  • Schtick on September 30, 2011 5:08 PM:

    I don't understand why Texas wants to educate the children of illegal immigrants. I thought the whole idea for big business and the rich was to keep them stupid so they would be employable for a couple bucks or so a day?


    crapcha....soeire procure....all the time.

  • AndThenThere'sThat on September 30, 2011 5:16 PM:

    This is really an ad one would expect of Tancredo, not Romney. Mitt Romney is better than this. He just needs to act like it.

    No, Romney is just another GOP asshole willing to race bait for political gain.

    On the other hand, stick a fork in Perry, he's done.

  • internet tough guy on September 30, 2011 5:17 PM:

    Mitt has flip-flopped on what he is better than.

  • LL on September 30, 2011 5:18 PM:

    Please. Romney is not better than this. He's an amoral shark who destroyed American companies and outsourced or eliminated thousands of American jobs simply to make a profit.

    Romney is an investment-banker, for christ's sweet sake! I don't mean to tar an entire profession, and an honest investment-banker with real integrity is a vital part of a mixed economy, but Romney's amoral acts as a professional are in the public record, well-documented. No doubt had he not been trying so hard to make the White House his next mansion, he'd have been up to his hair-roots in the derivatives market, and would have been right there with the squids at Goldman, sucking up every loose dollar he could find..and then, of course, when it all went bad he would have....blamed the Democrats.

    He is not better than this. This is what he is.

  • N.Wells on September 30, 2011 5:21 PM:

    He's a republican, and present evidence is that none of the republicans currently on public display are "better than that". In fact, they all seem to be competing to be "much worse than that." In 40 years of following US politics, this is by far the most odious supposedly mainstream group that I've seen. In strictly relative terms, they make Bush look compassionate and intellectual, Reagan look competent, and Nixon look liberal, lovable, and intellectually honest.

    I'm now going to go home to wash my mind out with soap.

  • Cha on September 30, 2011 5:28 PM:

    No, Romney is not better than this. This is what Romney is. It's just taken awhile from all his stupidass flip flops to get to this.

  • Alli on September 30, 2011 5:31 PM:

    Mitt Romney is not better than this that's why he is doing it and if nominated will get worse. Liberals want to talk about a man with no principles? look at Romney instead of Obama next time.

  • RT on September 30, 2011 5:31 PM:

    In a race to the bottom, the only road is the low road.

    Captcha: "technical engestio". Sounds kinda Spanish, no?

  • bleh on September 30, 2011 5:37 PM:

    Yeah, this is just Republican primary politics, and that is one ugly sewer.

    Romney has no personality, no character, no essential human qualities -- or at least none that matter. H is in some ways the apotheosis of the Corporate Man -- he IS a corporation, complete with departments, massive infrastructure, and a totally artificial identity. That the current situation demands nasty racism means merely that the adaptive and optimizing functions of the corporation will deliver the necessary behavior. Why does this surprise you fully-organic lifeforms?

  • flubber on September 30, 2011 7:00 PM:

    Michael Gerson spurts, "it uses a statement praising Perry by former Mexican President Vincente Fox as though it were an endorsement by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

    Got it. "Liberals" think "ethnic outbidding" and demagoguery should be left to the professionals like Gerson and the Washington Post, or Chait and TNR. (What's Marty Peretz up to these days?)

  • ComradeAnon on September 30, 2011 7:31 PM:

    When did Mitt hire Saxby Chambliss as his media advisor?

  • exlibra on September 30, 2011 8:06 PM:

    Mitt has done better flip-flops than this.

    flubber, @7:00PM,

    Gerson is a liberal? Do you know something I don't? Or did I simply misunderstand you (that pesky language barrier; one never gets rid of it entirely)?

  • Doug on September 30, 2011 8:43 PM:

    Thankfully, George Romney isn't around to see just how degraded his son has become.
    The very idea that "Romney is better than this" is in itself ridiculous. The complete lack of any scruples in achieving his goals is just as evident in his record as an investment banker as it's become in his political life.
    How many of the companies he gutted then sold COULD have been profitable had some time, effort and, perhaps, money been invested in them? That's too hard, though, so Romney took the simplest and most profitable way out - selling the companies' assets, slashing the number of workers and then selling the shells that were left.
    That's real management, that is!
    The same applies to his political "performance art". In Masachusetts he's a Rockefeller Republican, because that's where the votes are. On the campaign trail for the Presidency in 2011, the only question that matters to Romney is: "What crowd am I speaking to today?" If it's Teabaggers, then he's in favor of harassing US citizens because of their parents' activities; ie, children of illegal immigrants. If it's some MSM "pundit" he'll try to appear reasonable and "Presidential", even if while completely contradicting something he said only the day before.
    I sincerely hope "Mittens" gets his ass handed to him at the National Convention by the Republican "base". I don't care whether the candidate is Perry, Christie or whoever, all that matters is ensuring Romney is so crushed in his latest attempt to lie his way into the White House that he can't show his face without provoking laughter and/or disgust.
    Preferably the latter...

  • Anonymous on September 30, 2011 9:16 PM:

    Mitt Romney is better than this. He just needs to act like it.

    If he ever appears better than this, it's only because he is acting.

  • Texas Aggie on October 01, 2011 3:44 PM:

    About this "problem" of undocumented kids getting an education in Texas that everyone seems to be missing is that the way the TX tax system is structured, everyone is paying for the educational system, such as it is, citizenship not withstanding. The individual taxes are largely sales and property taxes so everytime that an illegal immigrant buys something, he is supporting the schools. Everytime an illegal immigrant pays his rent, he is supporting the schools. It takes some kind of real dirtbag to defend making someone pay for something and then not letting them have it.

  • fignaz on October 04, 2011 6:20 PM:

    Let's not forget that Mexico was the place where the Romney family took refuge along with a group of other Mormons alienated by the federal gov't's opposition to polygamy. Despite emigrating, Mitt's grandparents freely chose monogamy, though. His father, George, was actually born in Mexico. Had the civil unrest of the Mexican revolution not imperilled the Mormon colonies. Mitt's father & grandparents might well have never returned to the U.S. Also, if I remember correctly, there are still Romneys in Mexico, descendants of those family members who rode out the revolution.

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