Post-Florida Spin Challenge!

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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Tough spin day for supporters of “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation, whose consistent, principled election message (stoked in the press) can fairly be summarized as “give Latinos some kind of amnesty for illegals or you’ll pay.”

 1) Romney took the toughest anti-amnesty line of the GOP field, and his line actually seemed to toughen in recent weeks. He was ridiculed for raising “self-deportation” as a policy goal. “As for Romney, immigration and the Hispanic vote, put a fork in him. He’s done, cooked, burnt,” said Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, go-to quote provider for the MSM, before the vote. Yet Romney won Florida with (according to exit polls) a 54% share of the Latino vote–higher than his overall share of 46%.  First response: That’s just those weird Cubans, who get special immigration treatment and don’t care about amnesty. Except that Romney won non-Cuban Hispanics with 52%. Maybe some of those are Puerto Ricans, who are already U.S. citizens. Still.  Note: It won’t help for comprehensivist spinners to note that maybe immigration isn’t such an important issue after all.  The whole pro-legalization strategy assumes immigration is an all-important issue for at least one group, Latinos. Nor is it completely convincing to argue that these were only Republican Latinos. Again, the comprehensivist argument is that Latinos ethnic identity, and desire for legalization of illegals, will overpower the pull of party. Not only did that not happen here, but any pull apparently went in the opposite direction. What comprehensivists can still say: Just wait until some of the “swing Southwest states” where Latino voters are mainly “Mexican-American voters.” We’ll see.

2) Note that the two Republican candidates who deviated in a pro-legalization direction–Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich–have both been brutally punished in the primaries. Perry’s “have a heart” pose proved fatal. Gingrich’s ‘amnesty for abuelitas’ stand certainly doesn’t seem to have helped. Anyone else want to try? …

Mickey Kaus