When Romney relies on anti-Latino animus

A Republican consultant recently said Rick Perry wins elections, not because he is loved, but because “he sticks a fork in his opponent’s eyeballs.”

This new video suggests it’s Mitt Romney handling the flatware.

For those who can’t watch videos online, the new clip from the Romney campaign focuses on — what else? — Perry’s policy in Texas that offers in-state tuition to children of undocumented immigrants. It was probably the one humane thing Perry has done as governor, and Romney intends to make him pay for it.

What’s notable about the spot isn’t just Romney using the issue, it’s how. The video includes a lengthy quote from Mexican President Vicente Fox praising Perry for doing the right thing. And as Jon Chait explained, “Fox is quoted at length praising Perry, and his praise stands on its own as an indictment — anything that a Mexican would like must be wrong.”

This is pretty ugly stuff. The underlying message of the video — it’s name is “Thank you, Governor Perry” — isn’t at all subtle. This is playing on right-wing animus towards Latino immigrants, plain and simple.

If Romney does expect to be the Republican presidential nominee, here’s hoping Latino voters don’t forget what he did to win that nomination.

What’s more, I realize there’s a contingent, even in the some liberal circles, that believes Romney is one of the more reasonable and less offensive candidates in the GOP field. After a video like this one, it may be time for that contingent to reconsider.

Update: Michael Gerson reflects on the video.

[P]erhaps most disturbing is the tone of the Romney ad itself. It is not simply an issue-oriented contrast. It uses a statement praising Perry by former Mexican President Vincente Fox as though it were an endorsement by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The last time I checked, Mexico was an important ally — a country that Romney, if elected president, would need to deal with daily. Fox’s words in the commercial are innocuous – simply thanking Texas and Perry for the education measure they had passed. So why is Fox’s statement supposed to be disturbing or sinister? Because Fox is a foreigner? Because he has a Mexican accent?

This is really an ad one would expect of Tancredo, not Romney. Mitt Romney is better than this. He just needs to act like it.

I’ve seen no evidence that Romney is, in fact, better than this.