ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper says that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a harsher stance on immigration than any Republican presidential nominee in decades.
Conservative columnist George Will on Sunday told Tapper that Romney was at a disadvantage with Latino voters because "he has to unring a bell that he rang during the primaries."
"It's interesting that Gov. Romney from New England is much more severe than Reagan, McCain or either Bush presidents were," Will noted. "All four of those coming from border states with more familiarity with it. So [President Barack Obama] has a double advantage here."
"I think empirically, Peggy, he's the most conservative nominee on the issue of illegal immigration and the Mexican border than any Republican nominee we've seen in the last 20 or 30 years," Tapper pointed out to Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.
"Yeah," Noonan agreed. "And I don't suppose he thinks he can make real numeric progress with the Latino vote."
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), who is chair of the House Democratic Caucus, noted that Romney should have been able to make inroads with Latino voters because of the sluggish economy if it were not for his immigration policies.
"The difficulty for Mitt Romney is he was so vicious in going at the issue of immigration that he locked himself in," Becerra explained. "It was very telling in Miami -- the heart of Republican Latinos, where you find more of them than anywhere else -- Mitt Romney goes and speaks to a crowd, he gets polite applause. Barack Obama goes into Miami and he gets standing ovations from a crowd of mostly Latino elected and appointed officials, Republican and Democratic."
"And so it's become clear that for Mitt Romney, it's trying to sketch his way out of what he said in the primaries," the congressman added. "He went so far to the right. He still associates with these guys that are so conservative."
During the Republican primary battle, Romney had courted conservative voters with anti-immigration positions. He called Arizona’s tough immigration law a “model” for the country; he promised to veto the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act; and he said that undocumented immigrants should self-deport.