Regular readers of this blog know that some weeks ago I wrote that the Romney campaign might have decided tactically to give up on the HispanicLatino vote. Nothing otherwise explains Romney’s lame performance at the NALEO conference in Orlando three weeks ago. I suggested that Romney might now allow his friends at the SuperPacs to run an anti-HispanicLatino strategy in selected states to whip up working class whites a la Willie Horton to make up for any lost share in traditional GOP HispanicLatino support.
A story in The Washington Post about a tweet by Rupert Murdoch supports my suspicion. “Murdoch was among 50 people who met with the former Massachusetts governor at the Union League Club in New York City (last week)….At the meeting, Murdoch pressed Romney and his aides to get tougher on Obama and asked about Romney’s stance on immigration. He later tweeted his thoughts in response to a follower who said Romney has brains but needs more stomach and heart…(Murdoch tweeted): ‘Romney has all these and more, but just to see more fight. And Hispanics a surrender to O. Cn not afford, hurts senate too.’”
Murdoch’s disjointed, contorted tweet implies that he walked away from the meeting with the impression that Romney has surrendered HispanicLatinos to President Obama, something Murdoch feels Romney cannot afford to do. But trailing 68-24 percent among HispanicLatinos in the polls, Romney might feel he has no option but to revert to a strategy that attracts voters scared and anxious about the economy and the nation’s new demography.
And Romney might have cause. Remember, one core function of a private equity firm like Bain is to find value in broken-down corporations and reorganize them, and the nation’s electoral landscape indeed might be on the verge of undergoing one of its periodic shifts in which some states change and reorder their political behavior. History teaches that when demography shifts, so do the nation’s politics, which are broken in many ways. Romney is used to betting big on remaking large organizations, and he knows that the South used to be Democratic. New England used to be a Republican redoubt but is now solidly Democratic. The Pacific West was Republican and other parts of the region are now trending Democratic. But some states in the Midwest that were Republican that then began voting Democratic show signs of moving back to their GOP roots – and Romney might sense this is the time to push them in that direction and keep them there for years to come.
Romney would willingly fork over Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico if he could spring surprises in the big Midwestern states and hook in Virginia and North Carolina – ah, North Carolina, where Sen. Jesse Helms used a proven racist campaign template to beat Harvey Gantt in a race for the Senate. In electorally important Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina, white working class voters could easily overwhelm any new, inherent Democratic HispanicLatino strength by adding new, angry voters to start eking out victories. (Luckily some of the polls in Ohio consistently suggest a big hole in Romney’s thinking.)
We have known for some time that for Republicans to win in the future they will have to excise their anti-HispanicLatino rhetoric or in some other way upend the demographic pressures building against their party. Does anyone doubt Romney’s ability to choose the worse of the two? And how fortuitous that the SuperPacs can do for Romney what he cannot do for himself: Run the kind of unlicensed campaign that after the fact will be labeled despicable. Isn’t the man running one of the largest of the GOP-affiliated SuperPacs – Karl Rove – the same man who off-the-books ran targeted, state-based anti-gay campaigns in 2004?
I hope I am wrong about this, but the campaign is threatening to become a sad, tragic affair in which ethnic and racial lines will be drawn – with America being quartered in the long run.
The foil to this kind of lurid campaign will be for Democratic-aligned SuperPacs to engage at the same level, branding Romney a tax dodger. This week’s reporting in Vanity Fair on Romney’s finances suggests Democratic strategists have more than enough ammunition to turn back the historic electoral realignment Romney might have in mind.
Feel free to forward these blogs adapted from previous writings, with additional thoughts published invariably in between.