Mitt Romney Now Wants to Make Being Welcoming on Immigration a Key Part of His Campaign

He's not the most natural standardbearer for the cause of turning around the Trump GOP's animus toward immigration.


Mitt Romney, former failed Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Massachusetts, is officially running for Senate from Utah. His announcement video (see bottom of post) has a lot of rah-rah boilerplate about how great and giving and pioneering Utahns are, but in the middle is an interesting turn for Romney and a gauntlet thrown to the Trump Republican attitude toward immigration.

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Around one minute into the ad, as Romney is explaining what makes Utah better than Washington (including balanced budgets, yay, followed by an unfortunate emphasis on how apparently great it is that they export more than they import) he throws in how "Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world; Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion."

Mitt didn't always think that front and centering a pro-immigration message was one of his selling points. In 2012 he was anti-Dreamers, and as Matt Welch emphasized, in 2012 Donald Trump was calling Romney's attitudes toward immigration "mean-spirited," "crazy," and "maniacal" for talking about encouraging illegal immigrants to "self deport." Welch further stressed that Romney was the king and founder of the Trumpian trend toward demonizing "sanctuary cities."

Romney seemed confused later on that Hispanics didn't understand what he thought he was trying to say: "make sure we have a legal immigration system that brings, in my view, more people legally to our country."

Romney can and undoubtedly will stress that he's as against illegal immigrants as he ever was. But Trump's reign has brought forward a general animus against foreigners and even legal immigrants such that Romney stressing his admiration for legal immigrants as one of his main substantive selling points in his Senate run can be read as an attempt to change the Party's current spirit toward immigration.

Good luck with that, though his history doesn't mark him as the best spokesman for the value to the U.S. economy and spirit that less restricted immigration brings.