Don't forget these 5 pivot points

Beyond the debates and the 47 percent, here's what moved minds

Marc Ambinder

1. Mitt Romney uses the word "self-deportation" in a presidential primary debate, sealing his fate with Latino voters. In Nevada, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and elsewhere, a Republican candidate who manages to attract 35 percent of the Latino vote is a presidential candidate who is broadening the tent and building a solid foundation for a GOP electoral majority in the future. That candidate is not Mitt Romney. When GOP strategists euphemistically say that the GOP needs "new language" to bring in minority voters, they're actually talking about stuff like this: The inability of standard-bearers to accept reality and change their minds on immigration policy. Self-deportation was Romney's way, in January, of telling the GOP primary audience that he didn't favor amnesty. Of course, he wouldn't be so mean as to "round" people up, but he would make it so hard for undocumented immigrants to live here that they'd decide to go back on their own. Practically, that means that the U.S. would go out of its way to treat people who are living here indecently. That's just mean. Couple that with President Obama's executive order allowing children brought to the U.S. by undocumented immigrants to acquire legal status, and the party threw away its chance to remind Latinos that the president didn't keep his promise to comprehensively reform the system.

2. Romney asks Rick Perry if he wanted to bet $10,000 that the former Massachusetts governor didn't pursue an individual mandate when he negotiated his health care reform plan with Democrats. The merits of the bet aside, the moment led to days and days of news coverage portraying Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat. Of course, Americans don't mind rich people. What they don't like, and what killed Romney during the spring, was the idea that he was an out-of-touch rich guy who had no idea what average Americans needed. The Obama campaign spent millions in key states chiseling in this image. Romney was able to shake some of it off with his expectations-breaking performance at his first general election debate, but it may not have not been enough, and the negative impression formed by Romney may ultimately be what lies in voters minds as they cast their ballots.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Marc Ambinder

Marc Ambinder is's editor-at-large. He is the author, with D.B. Grady, of The Command and Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry. Marc is also a contributing editor for The Atlantic and GQ. Formerly, he served as White House correspondent for National Journal, chief political consultant for CBS News, and politics editor at The Atlantic. Marc is a 2001 graduate of Harvard. He is married to Michael Park, a corporate strategy consultant, and lives in Los Angeles.