SALEM, NH - JANUARY 05: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (L) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) hold a campaign town hall meeting at the Boys and Girls Club January 5, 2012 in Salem, New Hampshire. McCain, the GOP presidential nominee who ran against President Barack Obama in 2008, endorsed Romney on Wednesday. Romney eeked out an eight-vote victory in the Iowa Caucuses against former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, who is also stumping in New Hampshire. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)2012 Getty Images
Sen. John McCain urged presumptive GOP candidate Mitt Romney to tamp down the harsh tone on immigration he adopted during the heat of the Republican primary, lest he lose Latino voters, the Daily Beast reports.
Presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney drew attention when he said at a primary debate in January that government should make life so hard on undocumented immigrants that they "self-deport" back to their home countries--a strategy adopted by states including Arizona, Alabama and Georgia.
The slogan set off alarms for Sen. John McCain.
According to Daily Beast columnist Howard Kurtz, McCain staged an "intervention" with senator Lindsey Graham urging Romney to "tone down" his immigration rhetoric. McCain was "downright disturbed" by Romney's comments during the Republican primary debate in Tampa, according to the report.
Romney politely listened, according to the Daily Beast, and dropped the phrase.
For McCain, Romney's choice of words reflected a larger disconnect with Latino voters.
“He gets 24 percent of the Hispanic vote," McCain told Howard Kurtz of the Daily Beast. “They need to do more outreach.”
The interview with Kurtz echoes similar comments McCain made in a Fox News Latino interview with Juan Williams regarding Romney's immigration stance.
"We all know what the answer is, and what the problem is," McCain explained. "It’s the issue of immigration. And we have to treat it in a humane fashion, and we have to understand that with any new wave of immigrants that comes to our country, whether it be Irish, or Italian, Poles, whoever it is, Hispanics in America, or Latinos, have an allegiance to the people who are coming and that are still in the country they came from."