Republicans are worried that Mitt Romney’s increasingly conservative rhetoric on a number of hot-button issues could hurt him in the general election.
Their fear is that while Romney’s position on matters like immigration, collective bargaining and social issues could boost him among conservative primary voters, thereby getting him the nomination, it could come back to haunt him with swing-state voters during the general election.
“He has to think about his words [coming] back at him in the general election,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “Job No. 1 is to win nomination, but the question is, at what cost?”
The chief worry among Republicans is Romney’s stance on immigration.
“My biggest concern is looking at how immigration is going to play,” said O’Connell. “Along with independents, I think Hispanics are going to pretty much decide this election. In places like Virginia, Florida and Western states like Nevada, his immigration rhetoric could very well be the difference in a close election.”
O’Connell said unions were going to work hard to beat Republicans anyway, but that Romney’s rhetoric was further antagonizing them — as well as blue-collar Midwestern voters who weren’t in unions.
“The union rhetoric could be a deciding difference in Ohio, and that’s what Romney really has to watch,” he said. “It could really come back to hurt him.”