In Tampa, Some Called For New Immigration Tone

By Jude Joffe-Block
August 31, 2012

PHOENIX -- This week at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, one attendee called on his party to "stop acting stupid" when it comes to Latino votes and the party's rhetoric on immigration.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, gave that line at a luncheon put on by the Hispanic Leadership Network at the convention.

The most vociferous anti-immigrant kind of candidates lose," Bush said later at another event put on by Bloomberg and the Washington Post. “They lose in primaries, they lose in general elections. And I’m all about winning.”

Bush may have been the most outspoken Republican on this issue in Tampa, but he wasn't totally alone.

Former Republican National Committee Chair and Florida Senator Mel Martinez also criticized the GOP tone on immigration, and warned fellow Republicans they could be "relegated to being a minority party" if they don't appeal to Latino voters. In her prime time speech, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice called for immigration laws that also "show that we are a compassionate people."

Beyond that brief mention from Rice, immigration policy was notably absent from the convention speeches, though many speakers did reference their family immigration stories.

Of course immigration policy wasn't missing from the platform that delegates approved on Tuesday, which includes a tough stance on illegal immigration. It states that "state efforts to reduce illegal immigration must be encouraged, not attacked" (in reference to the U.S. Department of Justice's challenge of Arizona, South Carolina and Alabama's immigration laws), calls for federal funds to be cut from universities that offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, and pledges to create policies to encourage those in the country illegally to leave voluntarily.

That immigration plank was seen as a victory for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped draft Arizona and Alabama's immigration laws, and ultimately succeeded in having his amendments adopted in the final wording of the platform.

But it was distressing to other Republicans who would prefer to see their party working toward solutions to expand legal immigration.

That is the direction that Alfonos Aguilar of the Latino conservative advocacy group, Latino Partnership for Conservative Leadership is hoping the GOP will take sooner rather than later.

"I think a lot of Republicans realize that we cant continue listening to them," Aguilar said of hard liners on immigration like Kobach. "If you are conservative, if you are for the free market, if you are for the family, you have to be for immigration."