Anti-immigrant positions of the Republicans seeking the presidential nomination will cost the party Latino voters in November, said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, chairman of the Democratic National Convention.
“They’re going to lose the Latino electorate and they’re going to lose it for some time,” Villaraigosa said today at a Politico Playbook forum in Washington. “This is the first time in modern history that I can recall where a major candidate for either party does not support comprehensive immigration reform.”
Leading Republican contender Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in January said he opposes any measure allowing undocumented workers a chance to stay in the country and gain legal status, including the so-called Dream Act. The legislation would permit those brought to the U.S. illegally as children a chance at legalization if they attended college or enlisted in the military.
In January, Republican Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor, said his party’s candidates should adjust the “tone” of their debate on issues such as illegal immigration to start appealing to independent-minded voters in states such as Florida with a history of voting for either major party. These voters are likely to decide the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.
Villaraigosa, 59, the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles, was tapped by the Democratic National Committee in February to lead the party’s national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. He will preside over the September convention’s proceedings and serve as a spokesman for the party, which is seeking to appeal to Latinos.
When asked whether he thought making same-sex marriages legal should be in the Democratic party platform, Villaraigosa said that he did.
“It’s basic to who we are,” he said. “I believe in family values and that we all ought to be able to have a family. I don’t think the government should be in the business of denying people the fundamental right to marry.”
While President Barack Obama has backed civil unions, he hasn’t endorsed marriage between couples of the same gender. At a news conference in December 2010, Obama said his views on same-sex unions “are constantly evolving.
‘‘I struggle with this,’’ Obama said.
Villaraigosa, who is term limited, said he doesn’t have plans to seek another elected office when this current four-year term, his second, ends in 2013.
‘‘I’m thinking about writing, speaking, but for now I’m thinking about taking a little time out.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Martin in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org