Even before considering how the Dream Act in the Senate will play out this week, it seems to be making ripples with a prominent Republican leader who might be considering a 2012 run. Mother Jones pointed out in a recent article that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich seems to have taken a much more moderate approach on immigration reform than in the past.
“We are not going to deport 11 million people…There has to be some zone between deportation and amnesty…People who have been here obeying every law except immigration…you’re not going to send them home,” the magazine quoted him as saying at a recent conference discussing such reform.
The magazine went on to speculate on the notion that Gingrich would support some sort of reform if it came up for a vote.
According to the Politico, Gingrich even called the Dream Act useful. This recent stance adds to the notion that the former Speaker isn’t as hardline of a conservative as many think him to be. His moderate stance on immigration adds to his moderate resume of appearing in a climate change ad with current Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
On immigration, if there is anyone who might have some significant clout in chipping away at the Democratic base, it would likely be a moderate candidate like Gingrich. In addition to supporting immigration reform, Gingrich has fairly recently professed to be a Roman Catholic, which could be key to gaining some traction with Hispanics.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 65 percent of Hispanic voters said that they would be supporting the Democratic candidate in the November 2010 midterms. Of the Hispanics polled ahead of that election, 64 percent were Roman Catholic. 22 percent of Hispanics identified themselves as Protestants, which would be more along the lines of what the current president claims to be. In political terms, this is the base with whom Gingrich could have some influence.
The former Speaker adds his voice to a small number of Republicans who have called for toning down the immigration rhetoric.
Last week, it was pointed out how former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is leading efforts with former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman to reach out to the Hispanic community with a Republican message. While buzz has surrounded the possibility of the younger Bush throwing his hat into the ring for a run at the presidency, he has not explicitly indicated that he will pursue that goal. Yet, his voice can also still be influential in helping Republicans have a moment of redemption with Hispanics. With Bush’s recent comments that cast a negative light upon the Arizona immigration law, the Republican’s voice, along with Gingrich’s, certainly adds some interesting dialogue to a party that has struggled to win over Hispanics devoted to a solidly Democratic base.
The fact of the matter, however, is that Hispanics are frustrated with both parties. Many have viewed Republican rhetoric overall as having been too harsh. Meanwhile, Hispanics have also been frustrated with Democrats, who they view as having been weak on the matter.
The frustration over immigration reform gridlock isn’t confined to a limited segment of the American people. Discontent with the current political system is a widespread matter. With immigration reform seemingly going nowhere, and with more losing faith in a government that is supposed to look out for the well-being of Americans, it will take a whole lot on the part of government officials to win back the faith of its disillusioned citizens.