People vote at a polling place inside El Gallo restaurant in El Mercado de… (David McNew / Getty Images )
Carlos Gutierrez, who led Mitt Romney’s outreach to Latinos during the presidential campaign, had harsh words for the former nominee Sunday as he joined the growing number of conservative voices calling for immigration reform.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Gutierrez said he was “shocked” to hear about Romney’s recent call to campaign donors in which he credited President Obama’s “gifts” to various groups, including the Latino community, for his loss in the election.
“I don’t know if he understood that he was saying something insulting,” Gutierrez said, placing the blame for Romney’s loss on the influence of the right wing of the Republican party, which took the GOP “where it doesn’t belong.”
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“We are the party of prosperity, of growth, of tolerance,” he said. “I mean, these immigrants who come across and what they do wrong is they risk their lives, they come here and they work because they want to be part of the American dream.”
His remarks echoed those he made last week, when he said the far right of the party “scared” Latino voters away from the Romney ticket.
“The Hispanics I know were scared of the Republican Party. I think it has to do with our incredibly ridiculous primary process where we force people to say outrageous things, they get nominated and they have to come back,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was equally harsh Sunday in condemning Romney’s remarks and the Republican party’s “death spiral” among Latinos, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“When you’re in a hole, you stop digging,” he said in reference to Republican deficiencies. “He [Romney] keeps digging.”
Gutierrez , along with the co-founder of the massive pro-Romney “super PAC” Restore Our Future, Charlie Spies, is looking to put his focus, and donor contributions, where his mouth is on immigration reform. The two are leading the formation of a new PAC, Republicans for Immigration Reform, with a clear focus on resolving an issue that played a role in Romney’s poor showing among Latinos on election day.
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Gutierrez intends for the group to be “something real and something that can have real influence on the outcomes of elections,” with the goal of promoting “some sort of legalization,” for illegal immigrants already working in the country, with the requirements for that legalization yet to be determined.
“If we get this right, the 21st century is ours. If we get it wrong, shame on us,” Gutierrez said, stressing the importance of solving immigration, and declaring that the Republican Party by its nature should lead in said efforts.
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