WASHINGTON – Democrats led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wasted no time Monday using Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s endorsement of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney as proof of Romney’s “extreme” immigration positions.
Republican presidential candidates “seem to be committing to the most extreme level there is,” said Reid in a conference call Monday. “This is no longer Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party. It’s controlled by extremists, like Brewer.”
The criticism came one day before Arizona’s presidential primary and one day after Brewer announced in a national television interview that she is endorsing Romney, citing his success as a businessman and his political background.
“They (the Republican field) all would be better than the current administration,” Brewer said Monday. “I believe that with Mitt Romney’s background in business and the private sector and his success, and you put that together with his political background that he, by far, is the best person to take on the current administration.”
But one political expert said it is likely too late in the game for either the endorsement – announced Sunday on “Meet the Press” – or the Democratic attack to have much effect on Tuesday’s Arizona primary.
“I don’t think it’s going to matter either way. The polls are showing that . . . Romney is pretty far ahead,” said Richard Herrera, an associate professor at Arizona State University’s School of Government, Politics and Global Studies.
Besides having little effect in the primary, Herrera said tying Romney to proponents of anti-immigration legislation will not have a lasting effect on many when it comes to the general election in November.
“This sort of issue really isn’t going to resonate with that many people,” Herrera said. “Where you might expect to see this message getting out and used is where there is a high concentration of Latino voters.”
But he said that won’t stop Democrats from speaking out on candidates who adopt get-tough policies on illegal immigration, in an effort to “shore up” support for President Barack Obama in the general election.
And speak out, they did.
Reid, on a call with Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-Texas, and Hispanic rights activist Dolores Huerta, said the country’s immigration problems will not be fixed without support for reform from Republicans in Congress, who he said are increasingly turning to extreme right-winged immigration policies.
Brewer’s endorsement for Romney is the third from some of the country’s leaders in anti-immigration legislation, including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former California Gov. Pete Wilson.
“Romney is making a really concerted effort to get that support because of the importance of it,” Gonzalez said. “I’m very disappointed in . . . Romney, but I think that’s a trajectory that he’s undertaken since the beginning.”
Reid also called out Brewer for her decision to turn down an invitation to testify before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Arizona’s omnibus immigration reform bill, SB 1070, in late April – one day before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a legal challenge to the law.
“If she’s truly proud of her law, why turn down the opportunity?” Reid asked.
But Brewer on Monday called it “ironic” for Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to invite her to testify before his subcommittee on April 24, the day before the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the law, since the final decision will then be in the hands of the court, not Congress.
“I would like to have known where they were in the last two years,” she said.
“Why weren’t they trying to solve the problem, or reaching out to me to get information or inviting me earlier and not waiting until it’s the day before the Supreme Court hearing, so there was really no need for me to go testify,” Brewer said. “It’s not going to make a bit of difference.”