Romney Campaign Manager Regrets Candidate’s Hardline Immigration Stance

Mitt Romney’s campaign manager Matt Rhoades wishes the former Republican presidential nominee hadn’t staked out such a far-right, hardline position on the issue of immigration.

Speaking at last week’s Campaign Decision Makers Conference held at Harvard University — the audio of which was posted online Monday — Rhoades said he regretted going after Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) quite so hard on immigration. Perry alienated many on the right with his support of a Texas state policy that allows children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates, a position he reiterated during a GOP presidential debate last year.

Romney used the issue to pivot to the right of Perry, taking positions on immigration that probably ended up costing him with the country’s burgeoning Latino electorate. Rhoades said that position doomed Perry, even more than his infamous “oops” moment, and added that Romney could have effectively dispatched the Texas governor on other policy grounds instead.

From the Huffington Post’s report:

“If you look through the unwinding of the Perry campaign, a lot of people put a focus on that one infamous debate moment,” Rhoades said, referring to Perry’s epic “oops” moment at an early November debate in Detroit, when Perry could not remember the three federal agencies he planned to eliminate.

“But it was the earliest debates, the first and second debates,” Rhoades said. “And by the third debate, and this was well before the other moment, I think Governor Perry was badly hurt.”

Rhoades reflected on how Romney had inflicted damage on Perry in early September with attacks on his comments that Social Security was a “Ponzi scheme” and his plan to turn the plan over to state governments.

“In retrospect, I believe we probably could have just beaten Governor Perry with the Social Security hit,” Rhoades said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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