According to the chairman of the Republican National Committee, during the 2012 election cycle, Sen. Marco Rubio’s popularity will overshadow any negative views of the GOP brought about by the party’s immigration stance or Gov. Rick Scott’s unpopularity.
The Miami Herald reports that “Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Wednesday that neither Gov. Rick Scott’s low approval rating nor the immigration debate will hurt the GOP as it tries to carry crucial Florida in next year’s presidential election.”
The Herald continues:
But [Priebus] did say another politician who will have only been in office for two years and who also may not be on the ballot could play a role in helping Republicans: Sen. Marco Rubio.
Rubio, who some speculate could be a potential vice presidential pick, is among several Republican Hispanic politicians who Priebus said could excite Latino voters. Others included Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.
Marco Rubio said in his first Spanish language interview Sunday that immigration reform requires three steps:
- Enforce the existing immigration law.
- Reform the current immigration system.
- Find a solution between mass deportation and amnesty.
Rubio said he does not support the DREAM Act, which would grant people who entered the U.S. illegally before the age of 16 conditional permanent resident status for a period of six years, after which they would be eligible to become legal permanent residents if they obtain at least an associate-level college degree or serve in the military for two years.
In the November 2010 elections, Hispanic voters in Florida supported Rubio and Scott despite the fact that Scott openly supported an Arizona-type immigration enforcement law for Florida.
A Pew Hispanic Center survey issued in October 2010 indicated that “the national political backlash against illegal immigration has created new divisions among Latinos and heightened their concerns about discrimination against members of their ethnic group-including those who were born in the United States or who immigrated legally.”
GOP elected officials have supported immigration enforcement-only legislation and passed it in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, and other states. At the federal level, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has filed three immigration enforcement bills this session: mandatory federal E-Verify, indefinite detention, and HALT (“Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation”).
Scott said in a recent interview that he recognizes that Hispanic voters were important for his election and he has made a point to address their issues: education, jobs, and housing. But Florida immigration reform bills have divided GOP legislators, especially South Florida Hispanic Republicans.