Newt Gingrich, in last night's debates, seemed to start positioning himself against not only his fellow Republicans, but also the incumbent president. The former Speaker of the House strongly advocated for a "humane" immigration policy that eases the enforcement of laws on long term illegals. His rationale lay in preventing family break-ups.
Gingrich runs the risk of losing the conservative support built over the past several weeks, following the trend of Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain when each fumbled in the right wing red zone. It lends credence to the idea that Gingrich actually lies more in the center than even Mitt Romney and opens the door further to criticism of his other non-conservative moves in the past.
It also opens the door for Gingrich to expand his support into different groups, especially if he wins the nomination. The Hispanic community is no monolithic creature. It divides along national and generational lines. Gingrich's move tactically targets Hispanics whose social conservatism could bring them into the GOP camp, or at least convince them to elect some Republicans. The family first mantra will attract Roman Catholic and other religious voters who have been pushing this line in many issues for decades.
The Republican Party itself has no consensus on all immigration policy ideas. Gingrich's gamble will cost him support now, but would definitely broaden his appeal if nominated.