With big wins in Arizona and Michigan last night, Mitt Romney is back on track to secure the Republican nomination.
But shoring up the GOP base has come at a high political cost: Romney has careened even farther to the right on immigration, threatening his appeal to the fastest growing electoral bloc in the country. Latinos are expected to cast 12 million votes in 2012 — an increase of 25 percent over 2008.
Barack Obama beat Arizona Senator John McCain by 61 to 38 percent among Hispanics. And Romney seems determined to help the president widen that spread in November.
During last week's GOP debate in Tempe, Romney called Arizona's abusive anti-immigrant law, s.b. 1070, a "model" for national immigration reform. The law gives police wide authority to detain anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant, and it's toxic enough that Arizona voters recently recalled its Republican architect.
Romney then lined up the endorsement of Arizona governor Jan Brewer, the most divisive national figure on the immigration debate since California's former governor Pete Wilson, also a prominent Romney backer. In recent days, we've also heard Romney double down on building a border fence, praise draconian "self-deportation," and promise to veto the DREAM Act — a law that would allow children who were brought here illegally by their parents to forge a path to citizenship through higher education or military service. The DREAM Act is supported by 85 percent of Latino voters.
Below, a Rollingstone.com mashup of the Romney's most virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric: