Priebus: Romney’s self-deportation comment was ‘horrific’

August 16, 2013

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told reporters Friday that Mitt Romney's comment about "self-deportation" at a 2012 presidential primary debate was "horrific."

"Using the word 'self-deportation' — I mean, it's a horrific comment to make," Priebus said at the RNC meeting in Boston, according to audio provided by Business Insider. "It's not something that has anything to do with our party. But when a candidate makes those comments, obviously it hurts us."

Priebus's comments were initially reported as him saying Romney's remark was "racist" (rather than "hurts us") but were later corrected.

Romney suggested at a GOP primary debate that the country's policy toward illegal immigrants should be to make it impossible for them to find work, forcing them to return to their home countries. The comment is widely believed to have hurt the GOP in the general election, when Latinos voted for Obama in even higher numbers than they did in 2008.

Priebus's comment comes as Republicans continue to seek a way forward on immigration. While GOP leaders would like their party to participate in some form of immigration reform, House Republicans have balked at the idea that illegal immigrants would be given a new path to citizenship.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · August 16, 2013