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Ex-Romney backer pushes immigration reform

Nov. 19, 2012 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- A top Latino Republican strategist had harsh words for U.S. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and joined other conservatives calling for immigration reform.

Carlos Gutierrez, who led Romney's Latino outreach during the presidential campaign, told CNN's "State of the Union" he was "shocked" Romney last week blamed his overwhelming electoral loss on "gifts" U.S. President Barack Obama gave key groups, especially blacks, Latinos and young people.

"I was shocked. I was shocked," he said. "And frankly I don't think that's why the Republicans lost the elections, why we lost the election. I think we lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn't belong.

"We are the party of prosperity, of growth, of tolerance," said Gutierrez, who was commerce secretary under President George W. Bush.

He said he didn't know if Romney even "understood that he was saying something that was insulting" when he told top donors in a conference call Wednesday Obama followed the "old playbook" of offering big-government "gifts" to win votes.

These gifts included healthcare reform, which Romney said brought out pro-Obama black and Latino voters.

"With Hispanic voters, free healthcare was a big plus," Romney said. "But in addition, with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group."

Gutierrez said he and Washington lawyer Charlie Spies were creating a super political action committee called "Republicans for Immigration Reform."

Spies was behind the "Restore Our Future" super PAC that raised $142 million for the Romney campaign.

The new super PAC would 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 undocumented immigrants already working in the United States.

"First they have to be legalized. And then you have to find a way to get into a line for the green card," said Gutierrez, the Havana-born son of a pineapple plantation owner.

The documentation requirements still have to be negotiated.

"'Republicans for Immigration Reform' is about Hispanics, but it's about Asians, it's about West Africans, it's about Ethiopians, it's about people from all over the world," Gutierrez said. "This is immigration. This is who we are. And we cannot grow without immigration."

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