Mitt Romney came to Orlando Thursday to make his case before Hispanic voters, the fastest growing segment of the U.S. electorate. He tried to connect with independents and Democrats--the biggest share of the audience-- with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials(NALEO).
Romney took a hard stance on immigration policy during the primary season. Now as the GOP's presumptive nominee he is trying to calibrate that message.
"I would staple a green card," Romney said, "to the diploma of someone who gets an advanced degree in America."
It's a message he mixed with reminders about his conservative base. Romney added, "It is critical that we redouble our efforts to secure the borders."
Romney's campaign has struggled over the last week to come up with a response to President Obama's executive order that will suspend deportations of those who came here as children of illegal immigrants and allow them to seek work permits. Polls suggest strong Hispanic support for that move.
Today Romney said, "He (Obama) did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Nothing. Instead he failed to act until facing a tough re-election."
Romney vows he will push for a permanent immigration fix, though he offered few details. He did tell his audience he would push for green cards to keep families together and insure immigrants who have served in the military a chance to pursue citizenship.
But Romney also made clear that his singular focus will remain on the economy. He asked, "Is the America of 11 percent Hispanic unemployment the America of our dreams? We can do better."
His Hispanic audience gave Romney a polite welcome but not a single ovation for his remarks. Friday President Obama will address the same gathering as both men compete for a pivotal vote in this battleground state as well as others.
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