Romney has tried unsuccessfully, as have many before him, to win primaries by making immigration a major divisive issue in his campaign.
Giuliani has dropped out of the race and endorsed McCain. This is a big deal because most pundits agree that Giuliani and McCain were dividing votes.
The latest rumor is that Schwarzenegger, the California governor, is likely to endorse McCain today. This would be meaningful as it could swing California voters towards McCain in that state’s primary on Tuesday. Schwarzenegger warned candidates not to exploit the immigration issue in his state.
Another problem Romney faces is that he used attack ads against the other candidates and I alienated many Hispanics with his “anti-illegal immigration” rhetoric. The result: Huckabee is still in the race (I’m not sure if this is to win or to take “conservative” votes from Romney who aired negative ads about him) and Hispanics are voting overwhelmingly for McCain.
As I’ve written before, opponents of immigration are loud, however they are not the majority. Even those who oppose illegal immigration do not consider it a top issue, especially given the current economic issues facing the nation.
So if Romney, a Republican candidate who has spent more than any other and has tried to use immigration as a wedge issue loses the GOP nomination, it is clear that it is best for th Republican party because he certainly would not be able to win in the general election where both democrats and independents are even less concerned about the issue than are most Republicans. Moreover, Democrats and Independents more likely to support comprehensive immigration reform that offers a path to earned legalization for the undocumented.
However this plays out, it should be interesting…stay tuned.