WASHINGTON, September 20, 2012 — Taking his campaign to the heart of the Latino community, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sat down for an interview on Univision in Miami, the most prominent Spanish-language television network in the U.S. Seeking to increase his popularity with Latinos by shaving off even a few points of Obama’s 72% to Romney’s 22% lead, he offered up his vision for the country.
Romney began by countering his remarks, which had been secretly taped at a Boca Raton fundraiser, when he infamously said that his “job is not to worry about the 47% of Americans who don’t pay income taxes and believe they are victims” by saying “My campaign is about the 100% in America.”
He then went on to say that he was alarmed over the economic plight of Hispanic Americans, blaming the President for failing to improve their lives.
“I am concerned about the fact that we have gone for over 50 months with unemployment above 10 percent among Hispanic Americans,” Romney added. “I am concerned about the fact that so many young Hispanic Americans drop out of high school, don’t get the kind of education they need for the skills that they have to have for tomorrow.”
But when pressed by hosts Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas about the future of undocumented immigrants and his plans for them, he hemmed and hawed. While not for a mass round up and deportation of the 12 million people here illegally, Romney still supported mass self-deportation, whatever that means.
[Click here to read about President Obama’s interview on Univision: DREAM Act: President Obama reaffirms unwavering support for DREAM Act at Univision’s Latino forum]
He explained it further this way: “I’m not in favor of a deportation — mass deportation — effort, rounding up 12 million people and kicking them out of the country. I believe people make their own choices as to whether they want to go home, and that’s what I mean by self-deportation.” Certainly a step down from his tough talk during the Republican primaries.
Romney also promised that he had still another secret plan that would be a “permanent solution” to the immigration process “that has been broken for years,” giving green cards to those students achieving advanced degrees in science, math or engineering. Nothing about green cards for those young people aspiring to be teachers, nurses, cops, or first responders.
But perhaps the biggest gaffe for Mitt Romney came when he spoke about DREAMers, those young people brought here by their parents illegally. “For those [young people] that are already here, that are undocumented, that were brought here by their parents and therefore are illegal aliens in this country, my view is that we should put in place a permanent solution,” Romney said.
In the Latino community calling DREAMers “illegal aliens” are fighting words, certainly not an elegant way to define nearly 2 million people.
The interviewers three times tried to nail Romney down about President Obama’s Dream Deferred Action, which he signed this past June and went into effect in August. The order suspends the deportation of up to 1.7 million young people (aka DREAMers) under 31 years old, who were brought here as children, raised here, went to public school and graduated, have no criminal record, and met other governmental criteria, now allowing them to apply for work permits. The Deferred Action program, however, does not provide legal status.
But President Obama had ordered the Deferred Action as a means to get around a Republican Congress that repeatedly refused to pass the DREAM Act, which would have provided DREAMers a path to citizenship. Deferred Action is a stopgap measure at best.
Romney dodged the question repeatedly, instead accusing the President of using immigration as a “political football” and then adding, “These kids deserve something better than temporary; they deserve a permanent position,” and expressing his support for offering permanent residency to those undocumented immigrants who serve in the military.
Did Romney help himself speaking before a large Latino audience? Did he shave a point or two off the lop-sided polls? At least he gave it a shot and did not give up reaching out to the Hispanic community.
Next up will be President Obama, being grilled tonight at the same forum hosted by Univision. The questions are expected to be no less tough, focusing on the nation’s economic woes, the high Latino unemployment numbers, and his still unfulfilled promise to change the immigration system.
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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