Romney Campaign Chief Says Hard Line on Immigration Backfired

Tuesday, 04 Dec 2012 07:18 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Mitt Romney’s campaign manager said the former Massachusetts governor’s strong stance on immigration during the Republican presidential primary hurt him with Hispanics in the general election.

“I regret that,” Matt Rhoades said in response to a question on whether Romney’s position succeeded with Hispanics.

matt-rhoades.jpg
Former Mitt Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades says Romney's tough stance on immigration hurt him among Hispanics.
(AP Photo)
Rhoades’ response came last week at a forum at the Harvard University Institute of Politics involving the advisers to the candidates in the 2012 presidential race, The New York Times reports.

The Harvard session has been held after every presidential election since 1972.

Stuart Stevens, a Romney senior strategist, also participated in the forum.

Rhoades added that the Romney campaign erred in fretting too much over Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Romney repeatedly attacked Perry on Social Security last fall during the primaries.

“I believe,” Rhoades said, “that we could have probably just beaten Governor Perry with the Social Security hit.”

He added that the campaign reached a low point in September when Romney’s “47 percent” comments made at a private luncheon with large Florida donors in May became public.

“There was a lot of negativity about our campaign as a whole, but he’s a person who takes personal responsibility,” Rhoades said of Romney. “He would tell me: ‘You didn’t say 47 percent, Matt. Stuart didn’t say 47 percent. I did.’”

Stevens said Romney’s choice of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate was based on a comfort level.

“The selection of Congressman Ryan was not a political choice,” he said, according to the Times.

Obama campaign officials at the Harvard session said they were surprised by the Ryan pick; they were expecting, maybe, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, the Times reports.

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