During the "This Week" roundtable's discussion of the politics of immigration reform and the Latino vote, conservative commentator Ann Coulter made the provocative claim that "Democrats are dropping the blacks and moving on to the Hispanics," while arguing that immigrant rights should not be considered civil rights.
Coulter's comments came as President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney continue vying for the critical Latino vote, with both participating in town hall interviews on Univision last week focused on issues important to the Hispanic community.
Former Clinton Labor secretary Robert Reich argued that Romney has failed to appeal to Latinos on key immigration issues, from calling for self-deportation to threatening to veto the DREAM Act.
"We have Governor Romney who is basically taking a position that is anti a large and the fastest growing segment of the electorate," Reich said on the "This Week" roundtable.
While criticizing President Obama for failing to aggressively pursue immigration reform in his first term, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos said that "if Republicans don't do something with immigration … they're going to lose not only this election, they might lose the White House for a generation."
Coulter quickly interjected, "That's why the Democrats are dropping the blacks and moving on to the Hispanics, because they're a larger group of Hispanics now" - seeming to claim that Democrats are more aggressively courting the growing Latino population than the African American vote, which polls show is firmly behind President Obama.
Coulter, author of the new book "Mugged: Racial Demagoguery From the Seventies to Obama," also argued that groups on the left, from feminists to gay rights groups to those defending immigrants, have commandeered the black civil rights experience.
"I think what - the way liberals have treated blacks like children and many of their policies have been harmful to blacks, at least they got the beneficiary group right," Coulter said. "There is the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws. We don't owe the homeless. We don't owe feminists. We don't owe women who are desirous of having abortions, but that's - or - or gays who want to get married to one another. That's what civil rights has become for much of the left."
When asked whether immigrant rights were not civil rights, Coulter responded, "No. I think civil rights are for blacks… What have we done to the immigrants? We owe black people something. We have a legacy of slavery. Immigrants haven't even been in this country."
Former Obama domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes disputed Coulter's contention, saying that immigrants have faced discrimination that required the same protections sought by those who fought for civil rights.
"I think you misunderstand the history of what's happened to immigrants and the history of discrimination against immigrants in this country," Barnes said, citing the work of the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, who Barnes said worked to "deal with the fact that we were trying to keep people from coming in this country in the most discriminatory of manner, in a way that doesn't lead to and build on the fact that we are a nation of immigrants."
Coulter is responding to viewer reaction to her comments on Twitter today, at @AnnCoulter.
Watch the roundtable's exchange here: