Here’s another sign that some Republicans are serious about reaching out to Hispanics and getting a deal on immigration.
Carlos Gutierrez, former Commerce secretary for President George W. Bush, is forming Republicans for Immigration Reform, a new super PAC. He’s being joined in the effort by Charlie Spies, the treasurer of Restore Our Future, the primary super PAC that backed Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Spies said in an interview Monday that the idea is to show Republicans who might face primary challenges that there are other Republicans like them who support a comprehensive immigration overhaul.
“We want those members to know there’s a group that will be supporting them,” Spies told USA TODAY.
Gutierrez, who was head of Latino outreach for Romney, said on CNN’s State of the Union that the new group’s goal will be to get “some sort of legalization” for the people who are in the USA illegally. Finding a path toward legalization has been one of the consistent sticking points over the years as Congress has tried to pass a comprehensive immigration bill. Republicans such as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, oppose a path to legalization because they view it as amnesty.
At his first post-election news conference last week, President Barack Obama said he wants a “pathway to legal status” and expects an immigration bill to be introduced after he is inaugurated for a second term.
The fact that two major Romney supporters are behind this super PAC is noteworthy. Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in the election – an increase from 2008. Romney angered some supporters, including Gutierrez, over post-election comments to donors that Obama won because of “gifts” to minority voters.
Gutierrez, who was born in Cuba, said in the CNN interview that aired Sunday he was “shocked” by those comments. He said he believes Romney didn’t realize he was being “insulting” to Hispanics.
“I don’t think that’s why the Republicans ... lost the election,” Gutierrez said on CNN. “I think we lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place where it doesn’t belong.”
Spies did not disclose specifics on candidates who might get the new super PAC’s support. One possibility could be Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is working with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on an immigration bill. Graham is up for re-election in 2014.