Nothing about the Supreme Court decision on Arizona's immigration law makes the Republican brand stronger or Mitt Romney's challenge with Hispanic voters easier. In the view of many Hispanic American voters, Obama supported their dignity and Republicans did not. That is an unfair political reality for Romney and the GOP. To thine own self be true. The Republican budget for defensive GOP ads in the Hispanic media went way up yesterday.
Republicans are in a trap of our own making. We can't acknowledge the obvious, that we will not deport 12 million people, lest we aggravate a vocal part of the GOP base eager to call anything less amnesty. Romney can't suddenly appear to be measured or in an Obama-like state of evolution, or he would enhance his negative, pandering stereotype. We can't outrun the growing Hispanic American voting bloc by running up the score with white voters. We would reach a point of diminishing return because of all the bad press. So the Republican campaign doesn't start from an honest place.
In the meantime, probably the only demographic in America where Obama has growing enthusiasm is among Hispanic voters.
The good news is that the economy is still the main issue. I've seen GOP polling that reminds us that Hispanic voters care more about jobs than about anything else. And that older Hispanics support Romney more than public data suggest. But Romney and key GOP leaders need a more visible pro-work, pro-jobs, pro-family economic appeal that makes sense and is credible to a core of Hispanic voters. And, by the way, no one is suspect because of their skin pigmentation. America is beyond that. Period.
We need to be clear to Hispanics that their skills and brains are vital to the economy, welcomed everywhere and that their families can prosper. The GOP is the party that offers everybody the best shot at the American dream. And we need to repeat that often.
Immigration is a loser issue for the GOP, but Romney can win on jobs and the economy. We can't get a majority of Hispanic votes, but maybe we can get enough.