What can Romney do? Even at this late date, marginal progress may be possible. One recent battleground poll found some unexpected openness to Romney among Hispanic men — which could be an outlier or an opportunity. At the Univision forum last week, Romney sought to soften his edge on immigration policy, emphasizing his support for a temporary workers program and permanent status for those who serve in the military or earn advanced degrees. Some specific initiatives addressing Latino concerns might help. In 2011, for example, 21 percent of Hispanics had a college degree of some sort, compared to 44 percent of whites. It would not be pandering to announce a policy designed to boost Hispanic college attendance and completion. There is nothing dirty or disreputable in addressing a genuine national issue while engaging in some political outreach.
As political tasks go, this one isn't particularly hard — pitching a message of economic growth, social mobility and social conservatism to the Latino community. But it requires a recognition. The Republican embrace of one portion of the conservative movement — immigration opponents — will eventually deprive every other element of conservatism (pro-defense, pro-life, pro-business) of national influence.
Michael Gerson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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