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How brown was my (conservative) candidate

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Mitt Romney’s astonishing ethnic metamorphosis

If he’s elected, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney plans to veto the Dream Act. His is a plan that will hinder Hispanic immigrants’ chances at a college education, or a go at military service. What’s more, he’s blocked legislation that would assist many immigrants from taking a shot at a legal means of earning a living.

And yet, Romney is, according to recent reports, himself a Mexican.  

Seriously. In a story broken by CNN columnist Ruben Navarrette last month (and subsequently picked up by every major news source), it was revealed that Romney’s father, George, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. This means that, if Romney takes the White House, he’ll be not only the first-ever Mormon in the Oval Office, he’ll also be the nation’s first Hispanic president.

One who’s been dogging Hispanics for years.

His ethnic heritage isn’t something that Romney usually talks about, especially to the media. But last month, while addressing a group in New Hampshire, he spoke of his father, who was born in Mexico and came to America as a child. Romney, Sr. worked his way “up from nothing,” his son said, to become the president of the American Motors Corporation, then the governor of Michigan and, eventually, a presidential candidate himself.

Navarrette writes that Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled the United States and crossed into Mexico in 1885 to escape religious persecution. He helped build the Mormon enclave of Colonia Juarez in Chihuahua. The elder Romney never became a Mexican citizen, and neither did his son, Gaskell, or grandson, George. They were all denied Mexican citizenship because statutes on the books in Mexico denied that right to American settlers and their offspring.

The hypocrisy is unsettling, but there’s a political payoff: Romney’s now made a name for himself as a straddler, after years of bludgeoning Republicans with illegal immigration rhetoric that depicts Mexican migrants as parasites, sucking on poor, defenseless America. And, while we can’t hope that he’ll abandon that theme—one that’s been playing in the background of his own family’s story these past three generations—as he continues his presidential campaign, we can look forward to the backlash killing his already slim chances of making it into the White House … 

      … at least if Hispanic voters have anything to say about it.

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