Romney’s trouble with Mormon Hispanics

USA - An interesting group has emerged in opposition to Mitt Romney’s candidacy — Hispanic Mormons.

Media stories in recent days have addressed this twist. This one by Russell Contreras of the Associated Press, includes interviews with Hispanic members, including a bishop in Arizona, who talk about the Book of Mormon’s strong immigration themes. The story references, without being specific, 2 Nephi 1:6 in the Book of Mormon, which says, “…there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.”

(The AP account includes some strange stuff about “Lamanites” living in the American Southwest in the Book of Mormon, something a lot of Mormon scholars who have tried to pinpoint the book’s geography would certainly find interesting, if not amusing.)

This blog by ABC’s Matthew Jaffe references the AP story and adds a bit.

Both accounts note the LDS Church’s own statements on immigration.

Hispanic Mormons aren’t numerous enough to derail Romney’s candidacy. But his immigration stance, including his opposition to the DREAM Act, could hurt him among regular Hispanic Republicans overall, and that might have an effect.

As Jaffe notes, Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the voting population. An estimated 12.2 million of them are expected to vote in November. Not enough to turn an election, perhaps, but that day may be coming.

It’s frankly a bit tough to know how Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul could benefit or be hurt by the issue. None of them has an immigration stance particularly attractive to the Hispanic population.

For that matter, President Obama hasn’t done much on the issue, either, and it seems to have fallen off the radar screen a bit as the economy struggled.

That could change briefly as the GOP race goes to Arizona, where illegal immigration is front-and-center, an everyday issue.

Americans as a whole seem to be moderating on the issue. This Gallup poll, taken last month, shows 64 percent of Americans at least somewhat dissatisfied with current immigration levels, but that is down from four years ago.

When it comes to specifics about what the nation should do with illegal immigrants, however, 66 percent told a Fox News pollster they would support allowing them to apply for citizenship if they met certain requirements.

Being a hard-liner on immigration may not be the Republican requirement it once appeared to be, and it probably isn’t going to gain a candidate much in November. It has, however, given Romney some trouble with a core constituency he ought to have locked up.