UPDATED: Romney Touts Support Of Anti-Immigrant Activist Kris Kobach
UPDATE: Kobach's current status with the Romney campaign is unclear, as Romney has been distancing himself from Kobach in recent days. Talking Points Memo reported on April 20 that Kobach insists he's an adviser to the campaign, while Romney's camp has described him as a "supporter." After a back and forth on the subject, both sides seem to have agreed that Kobach is now an "informal adviser."
Last night, Mitt Romney handily won the New Hampshire primary but expressed concern about the upcoming South Carolina primary. Calling it "an uphill battle," Romney said, "I don't know if we can win South Carolina." Part of Romney's strategy in the state has been to establish his conservative credentials on immigration — and an endorsement from anti-immigrant extremist Kris Kobach, currently serving as Kansas' Secretary of State, strengthens his position as an immigration hardliner.
This morning, Romney made no bones about just how extreme his positions have become, issuing a press release boasting about Kobach's endorsement:
"I'm so proud to earn Kris's support," said Mitt Romney. "Kris has been a true leader on securing our borders and stopping the flow of illegal immigration into this country. We need more conservative leaders like Kris willing to stand up for the rule of law. With Kris on the team, I look forward to working with him to take forceful steps to curtail illegal immigration and to support states like South Carolina and Arizona that are stepping forward to address this problem."
"We need a president who will finally put a stop to a problem that has plagued our country for a generation: millions of illegal aliens coming into the country and taking jobs from United States citizens and legal aliens, while consuming hundreds of billions of dollars in public benefits at taxpayer expense," said Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. "Illegal immigration is a nightmare for America's economy and America's national security. Mitt Romney is the candidate who will finally secure the borders and put a stop to the magnets, like in-state tuition, that encourage illegal aliens to remain in our country unlawfully. He is also the candidate who will stand shoulder to shoulder with the states that are fighting to restore the rule of law. I am pleased to stand with this true conservative."
Kobach has been a lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and is a notorious force in the movement to pass radical laws combating undocumented immigration. Among other measures, Kobach co-authored Arizona's anti-immigrant SB 1070.
In addition to the folly of promoting an endorsement from a figure like Kobach, the statement Romney highlights from his newfound ally is full of misinformation on immigration. Forwarding falsehoods about "millions of illegal aliens" stealing American jobs and eating up public resources suggests Romney has committed to an approach to immigration policy that's based on destructive myths rather than facts.
This isn't the first time Romney has touted the support of a far-right figure. Last month, Romney raised eyebrows when he highlighted the endorsement of Delaware's failed Republican senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell, who said that Romney's flip-flopping is "one of the things that I like about him."