Newt Gingrich and the Latino Vote (POLL)

During last night’s GOP foreign policy debate on CNN Newt Gingrich made news for his comments on immigration when he advocated for a tough but “humane” approach when dealing with the 11 million undocumented immigrants illegally residing in the United States.

Hot Air’s Ed Morissey penned “Is Gingrich playing for the Latino vote? “, he asks the question many in the blogosphere are trying to answer: “Will Newt Gingrich lose ground in the polls after moving away from a hard line on enforcement among current illegal immigrants? ”  Morissey examines how Gingrich’s statements will play in the Iowa primary, with overall Republican voters and its impact to attract Latinos to the Republican candidate.  It’s a great piece that looks at many issues, including the Perry factor. In regards to Gingrich’s overall position on immigration Morissey writes:

“…Besides, while Gingrich’s position may have been an outlier on that stage, it may not be an outlier within the party.  Poll analyst Nate Silver looks at a May 2010 poll from the New York Times among Republican voters on immigration policy and sees Gingrich’s position as mainstream in the GOP…” READ MORE

Hispanic voters will make a big difference in early primary states “of the first six state contests, three — Florida, Nevada, and Colorado — boast higher-than average concentrations of Latino voters, and at least 30 percent of the community registers or regularly votes Republican,” according to the Las Vegas Sun. Gingrich understands that the Republican Party has a major opportunity with Latino voters this election cycle. Latino support can make the difference in helping him win the GOP nomination.

By no means is immigration the most important issue for Hispanic voters, but the tone of the debate has dictated how many Latino voters perceive a candidate, especially Republican candidates. A recent Univision Poll states that only 13% of Latinos say the GOP has done a good job reaching out to them. About 42% of Latinos say Republicans don’t care too much about Hispanics and 30% believe Republicans are being openly hostile to Latinos.

Gingrich’s statements seem to be a calculated move and a product of a long history of working on issues of immigration and engaging Latino voters nationwide. He created The Americano, a bilingual news site aimed at connecting with right-of-center Latinos, appears on Spanish-language media and is one of the only GOP presidential candidate to have a Hispanic engagement strategy. Gingrich is the only candidate to regularly host national conference calls with Latino leaders, and has full-time campaign staff dedicated to connect with Hispanic voters.

After the debate Gingrich further discussed his position on immigration, some of which is based on the Krieble Foundation and their “red card” program which separates U.S. citizenship from the equation and focuses on America’s economic needs. “Millions will go home,” Gingrich said after the CNN debate, “but there will be millions who will be staying.” He continued, “I’m willing to be tough, but I’m not willing to kid people,”  referring to the unworkability of deporting 11 million people. “…I can’t imagine any serious person here in this country who believes we’re going to tear families apart that have been here twenty or twenty-five years.”

The reality is we need to find a middle ground between a blanket amnesty and forced mass deportation on how to deal with illegal immigration. Both extremes are bad for America for multiple reasons. We do need to enforce the laws, secure the border and be realistic on how to deal with the 11 million immigrants illegally residing within the United States. America needs leaders who will be honest about the broken immigration system and stop offering simplistic solutions to a complicated problem. Any candidate who promises to enforce a mass deportation of illegal immigrants or to pass a blanket amnesty, is being dishonest, unrealistic and is pandering to a group of voters.

It’s unfortunate that some of the political chattering class, and within the GOP Presidential contest, will try to say that Gingrich is advocating blanket amnesty and citizenship for all. They are being dishonest.  It’s time for voters to stop focusing on sound bites and look at the full scope of a candidate, and which Republican will offer the best solutions to improve our country. Our country can’t afford four more years of Barack Obama as President.

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