As Republicans continue their struggle to win over Latino voters, few party members have embodied the party’s image problem with the burgeoning voting bloc more than Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. Her state’s controversial law, SB 1070, was criticized by many as a facilitator of racial profiling. During her 2010 campaign, Brewer sought to link crime with illegal immigration by alleging that law enforcement had found decapitated bodies in the Arizona desert, despite no such evidence for the claim.
But on Tuesday, Brewer chalked up the GOP’s low standing among Latino voters to pandering on the part of President Barack Obama. Appearing on “POLITICO LIVE” at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Brewer said Obama has ignored border security in favor of winning more Latino votes.
“He panders to them,” Brewer said. “Look what he’s done: he hasn’t secured the borders.”
Brewer’s case for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s approach to immigration reform was short on specifics.
“I think President [sic] Romney believes in the rule of law, and he knows and understands” Brewer said. “When he becomes president, I think we’re going to be able to solve a lot of these issues.”
She also contended that Democratic charges of racism directed at border hawks within the Republican Party are unfair.
“It’s all the time, that we’re race-baiting; it’s all the time, you know, that we’re bigots,” Brewer, who added that Obama is also guilty of race-baiting on the issue.
Brewer and Obama have something of a contentious history with each other. Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Arizona to deny implementation of SB 1070, a challenge that ultimately led to the Supreme Court declaring certain parts of the law unconstitutional in June. Earlier this year, Brewer combatively confronted the president on an airport tarmac during an Obama visit to Arizona.
Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.