Romney offers few specifics in speech to Latino leaders
June 21st, 2012
12:23 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney offers few specifics in speech to Latino leaders

Lake Buena Vista, Florida (CNN) – In a speech to a skeptical audience of Latino leaders outside Orlando Thursday, Mitt Romney offered few specific on hot-button immigration policies but said he could be a compelling alternative to President Barack Obama.

The presumptive GOP nominee told the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials he would streamline the process for family members of legal immigrants to enter the country, and would adjust upward the caps on immigration and temporary visa allocations for some countries.

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But Romney skirted the headline issue this month: Obama's recently announced order that would effectively allow the children of some undocumented workers a path to legal status.

Romney criticized the president's move as being "temporary" and a nakedly political calculation, while not detailing how he would propose to address those illegal immigrants afforded temporary status under Obama's new policy.

"Last week, the President finally offered a temporary measure that he seems to think will be just enough to get him through the election," he told the Latino leaders seated around tables in a cavernous ballroom. "As President, I won't settle for stop-gap measures. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution."

Romney's speech, given one day before President Barack Obama was to address the same group, took aim at the incumbent Democrat for failing to turn around the economy.

"This isn't an election about being a Republican, Democrat, or an independent. This is an election about the future of America," he said. "Is the America of 11% Hispanic unemployment the America of our dreams? We can do better."

The Latino leaders in the audience listened politely to Romney's speech, but the response was markedly less enthusiastic than what the GOP candidate has enjoyed at many of his recent events.

Romney took a hard line stance on immigration throughout the Republican primary season. He promised to veto the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants.

"The question is if I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it and the answer is yes," Romney said in Iowa last December.

In recent months, Romney has softened that view, indicating he might be open to a Republican version of the DREAM Act that was being drafted by rising GOP star, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Earlier this week, Rubio's office said the senator had shelved the proposal in response to the president's move on deportations.

In a statement, the Obama campaign immediately circled back to Romney's pledge to veto the DREAM Act.

"After seven days of refusing to say whether or not he'd repeal the Obama administration's immigration action that prevents young people who were brought here through no fault of their own as children from being deported, we should take [Romney] at his word that he will veto the DREAM Act as president," said Obama for America Director of Hispanic press Gabriela Domenzain.

In a policy session at the conference just hours before Romney's scheduled speech, a labor organizer with the Service Employees International Union blasted Arizona's immigration law and other "copycat" laws across the country as legalizing "racial profiling." Romney has said he supports the Arizona law but does not see it as a model for the country.

Eliseo Medina, the Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU, warned more Latino leaders will settle their differences over immigration policies at the voting booth in the fall.

"There will be many more of us in 2014, 2016, 2020 and on into the future," Medina said.

While some Republican leaders are adamantly opposed to any effort to provide a path to legal status for the undocumented, other GOP lawmakers are looking to Romney for guidance.

"I think we're going to wait until we hear what Governor Romney has to say on this issue," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said earlier this week.

"There may be others behind me who want to address it. But my view, he is the leader of our party from now until November and we hope beyond," McConnell said.

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Filed under: 2012 • Immigration • Mitt Romney
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. gurgyl

    Is this for getting Hispanic Votes????idiots....nonsense. He vehemently opposed DREAM ACT, now talking like a drunkard.

    June 21, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. John, PA

    Here’s one thing I really disagree on with Romney. How about; first; close the border and enforce the existing immigration laws. Second; deal with the unemployed American public.

    June 21, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, NOT a third term of BUSH's years of FAILURE

    It is now clearer what Newt Gingrich meant when he said that, “there is something so grotesquely hypocritical about the Romney campaign. We’re not going to beat Barack Obama with someone who owns Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts. Mitt Romney should know that we aren’t that stupid and he isn’t that clever. To have his campaign take on a lifetime of lies, frankly I do find infuriating. I think it is one of the most dishonest things I’ve seen in politics.” – Newt Gingrich (01/26/12)

    June 21, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. s

    JOhn dont worry he won't do a thing he says. all talk!

    June 21, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens is a political panderer. Say nothing, have no plans, and cater to the group you're talking to, and then change it later.

    June 21, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  6. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    YES! LEGAL IMMIGRATION AND SECURE BORDERS!! Romney knows EXACTLY what the real problems are and how to fix them. None of this illegal Obama BS done for political reasons.

    June 21, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. Indie in VA

    "The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President's temporary measure." – Wait. Isn't this guy on the side that was just trouncing the President for acting without Congress's approval? Once again, it's okay for Republicans but not for Democrats?

    June 21, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    No message for Latinos what is he thinking ?
    Just attacking past 31/2 years wont work

    June 21, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Natalie

    Romney, the most pathetic panderer of our lifetime. Certainly not Presidential material. This guy cannot take a stand if his life depended on it. Are suppose to trust someone who's sole purpose is to win the White House even though he has nothing original to offer by way of policies? His policies mimic the last failed Administration, so are we fools to fall for that again? Sadly, a huge portion of this country is poisoned by Fox Noise sound bytes and have no interest in seeking the facts.

    June 21, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. B

    This guy has just done a complete 180 degree turn around compared to his "self- deportation" remarks that he made during the Republican Primaries. His etch-a-sketch has just cracked in half from all of the shaking.

    June 21, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  11. cali girl

    It has been a week and nothing from Robmey. His conference call yesterday was cut short because some press reporters asked questions about his take on immigration. 3 questions in fact, he still did not or could not answer them.
    The whole call was cut short, he did not even finish his topic, which was on the President and the economy.
    What a bafoon.

    June 21, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Failure – Read much? It seems you are completely unaware of the problem, and if you think Mittens can fix it, you are sadly mistaken. It would seem to me that you would follow Reagan, and "W" on immigration, and not clueless Mittens.

    June 21, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. Frankie

    Empty suit with empty ideas. Does he think the Latino community is not paying attention. Latinos are some of the most informed voters out there. They pay attention to legislation. They know the Democrats tried to pass the Dream Act in 2010 but it was fillibustered by the Republicans.

    June 21, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    If Mittens is elected, and we get that great depression that the GOP and baggers desperately want, will they blame Obama?

    June 21, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. Gotta Be Kiddin

    Please tell me how Romney can compare this economy to the economy of 1972? I believe that in 1972 there were plenty of manufacturing jobs to be had – not so now. I hope he didn't expect this speech to help him much because it won't. He must think the Hispanic people are stupid. I believe that they may have been following the struggle to get the Dream Act passed and it wasn't the President who stood in the way. I believe it was a REPUBLICAN filibuster. Besides Romney said if it were passed he would veto it. How does he walk that back? Where are his details on his immigration policy? He can't give them because he would turn off Hispanics when they realize he wants them to leave this country. Can't wait until he addresses the NAACP – that should be very interesting.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    June 21, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. anagram_kid

    Another example of Gov. Romney pandering to whomever is in front of him at the moment. I have no doubt he will give a speech in AZ in a few weeks that contradicts what he said to this audience.

    June 21, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. Republican Voting for OBAMA

    This guy is not a conservative and changes his mind more than GIRLS CHANGE CLOTHES

    June 21, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. sahara

    Mitt Romney has the idea to transform the world, change all the Obama bills, make huge changes in the Immigration, but then, what is the specific, how can you do it, give us a plan, how can you simply balance the budget, how can you say u don't care about the very poor and here, saying that u care about the middle class, how can you support the Ryan Budget that eliminates the middle class as they did yesterday by voting overwhelmingly to defund food stamp programme and in turn, give huge tax breaks to GOP cronies, Let mitt get serious and factual, if you believe you can run on 'the other guy is a bad guy" Mitt you will lose hand down.

    June 21, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    @Obama 2012 – BEND and yada yada: "YES! LEGAL IMMIGRATION AND SECURE BORDERS!! Romney knows EXACTLY what the real problems are and how to fix them. None of this illegal Obama BS done for political reasons."

    President Obama has been within his rights in what he's done – just like when GW Bush on September 15, 2007 issued an executive order granting reprieved to more than 3500 Liberians who were facing deportation from the US. Other presidents in modern history who've changed deportation policy through executive order are Clinton, GHW Bush and Reagan.

    And if you're looking for the cause of our illegal immigration issues, look no further than all the U.S. citizens who've broken the law by hiring illegal immigrants (and laying off U.S. citizens) in their pursuit of profit ahead of people. Your beef is with THEM – if there weren't jobs, immigrants wouldn't come here illegally.

    June 21, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. anagram_kid

    BEND wrote – YES! LEGAL IMMIGRATION AND SECURE BORDERS!! Romney knows EXACTLY what the real problems are and how to fix them. None of this illegal Obama BS done for political reasons.
    -----------
    So how is that President Obama’s is responsible for a record number of deportations? And are you seriously stating that Gov. Romney is not being political?

    Obama 2012 – Because the first four years were not enough to correct the mistakes Bush made

    June 21, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. Darryl

    I just watched the speech.He didn't get very many people clapping and nobody was cheering him on. He looked like he was a little frustrated at times because people were'nt responding like the T-Party people do.And as far as immagration and giving them something solid? We he didn't do that eighter.Infact he never adressed anything he would make perminate for the Lations.He offered a Green Card if they went to college & opened a bussiness.I think the Latino people were kinda insulted I know that was insulting to me.A Green Card ? Is he kidding ? This Romney guy will NEVER make it to the W/H and he's Crazy if he thinks he's going to win the election.He's really out of touch with everyday people and really doesn't have a clue about hard-working ordinary people.Wow, someone should tell him the Latinos got NO promises form him at all NADA!!

    June 21, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. jake

    Nobody believes this man on anything because he will change his position again and again. He really is the etch a sketch guy. Today he BS the Latinos, tomorrow he'll BS some white folks elsewhere. As you can see, there is nothing in Mitt's message that is specific or outlines his plan. To say that Obama hasn't done anything is just simply not true, but he won't blame the Republican Congress that is holding up the Dream Act which is a comprehensive immigration policy. But, he'll blame the President for the fault of Congress. Won't dare go against his bosses, Boehner, McConnel, and the rest of the useless Republican leadership. Such a plastic man.

    June 21, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    "I will reallocate green cards to those seeking to keep their families under one roof," Romney will say....
    ---------
    Just listened to it. He didn't say that. If he did, I missed it. It is an empty promise of nothing anyway. If you are here illegally, then no one has a green card to reallocated. Taa Daa.

    June 21, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Bob

    Ethc-A-Sketch will say anything to anyone to get elected.

    He has absolutely NO integrity at all.

    He and his 5 sons are cowards, plain and simple.

    June 21, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain

    @John, PA: "Here’s one thing I really disagree on with Romney. How about; first; close the border and enforce the existing immigration laws. Second; deal with the unemployed American public."

    Are you kidding? Mittens is all about laying off people and shipping jobs overseas; he couldn't care less about the average American looking for work. Mittens believes that what most benefits the investor class is all that matters; we're nothing more than a cheap labor force to be exploited. Besides, the GOP needs a bogeyman to scare its voters; that's why Karl Rove introduced illegal immigration as an issue around 2006. Before that, no one cared, because everyone liked the cheap labor (and employers especially liked not having to pay FICA, unemployment insurance, OSHA, or any benefits of any kind).

    The GOP knew that their economic policies of waging two wars while cutting taxes would result in a huge deficit, so Karl Rove started fanning the flames of anti-immigrant feelings. Nothing like having an "other" who looks different than you to distract people and give them someone to hate. God forbid the GOP should actually deal with the facts and truth – they don't because it always reveals it to be a fraud intent on bringing down the American middle class.

    June 21, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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