Romney softens on immigration
03 October 2012, 12:56
Denver - US Republican Mitt Romney positioned himself on Tuesday for a
high-stakes presidential debate, softening his stance on immigration
while his campaign accused the White House of a "stunning admission"
that it had failed on the economy.
Trailing in many polls, Romney
is widely seen as needing to score a win at the televised debate in
Denver on Wednesday night when the two men square off over domestic
issues like the economy, immigration and healthcare.
campaign jumped on Vice President Joe Biden for comments the Republicans
said were an acknowledgment that Obama's policies have been bad for the
Accusing Romney of planning to raise taxes, Biden told a crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina:
"This is deadly earnest. How they can justify ... raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years?"
camp said Biden, known for making gaffes and speaking out of turn, was
referring to the economic plight caused by former President George W
Bush's policies. But the Romney campaign made the most of the remark.
Hope for Republicans
President Biden, just today, said that the middle class, over the last
four years, has been 'buried'. We agree," Romney's running mate, Paul
Ryan, told supporters at a campaign event in Iowa.
comment gave Republicans hope ahead of Wednesday's showdown in Denver,
the first of three presidential debates that might define the 6 November
In the latest effort to show a gentler side after a damaging video appeared last month, Romney tweaked his immigration policy.
He told The Denver Post
that he would not overturn an order by Obama in June that allows
hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants brought to the United States
as children to stay in the country.
The former Massachusetts
governor is struggling to score points with independent voters on
immigration after suggesting in the Republican primaries that around 12
million undocumented workers should "self-deport" from the United
"The people who have received the special visa that the
president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that
the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take something
that they've purchased," Romney said.
Courting the Hispanic vote
Romney had not said whether he would reverse Obama's order, instead
promising to put in place an immigration reform of his own that would
make that kind of action unnecessary.
His softer stance on
immigration appeared aimed at courting the Hispanic vote, which will
likely be key in the swing state of Colorado. Nationally, Obama leads
Romney among Hispanic voters by as much as 40 percentage points.
is part of a bid by Romney's campaign to present a more empathetic face
to voters after the former businessman was seen on a secretly recorded
video deriding 47% of the electorate as dependent on federal aid.
Reuters/Ipsos poll on Tuesday showed Obama's lead over the Republican
narrowing to five points, at 46-41%. Obama was ahead by seven points
last week and five points on Monday in the online survey.
week, Romney told voters in battleground state Ohio that his "heart
aches" for the jobless and he has been bolder in defending his 2006
healthcare reform in Massachusetts as evidence that he cares for
Often accused of being out of touch with voters,
Romney took a break from preparation for Wednesday's debate with Obama
by visiting Mexican fast food chain Chipotle in Denver, where he ordered
a "burrito bowl" of pork, rice, black beans, guacamole and a spicy
Obama goes into the debates appearing
to have the momentum in the campaign despite high unemployment and
criticism of his Middle East policy after last month's killing of the US
ambassador to Libya.
"The Romney campaign still seems to be
trying to find a Plan B for going after the incumbent," said Dante
Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire.
campaign accused the Republican of confusing voters in The Denver Post
interview about whether he supports allowing the children of illegal
immigrants to stay in the United States.
"There are a lot of
questions that were raised about that interview. Again, it's not showing
a huge amount of courage to give a confusing answer on an issue that's
been around for more than 100 days," spokesperson Jen Psaki said in
Romney's comments may risk alienating conservative voters who applauded his earlier stand against illegal immigration.
is, the real conservative base will reel him back in. Talk radio will
be on him by [Tuesday] afternoon," said Larry Berman, a professor of
political science at Georgia State University.
Tax loophole quiz
Romney's new course on immigration, Ryan has taken a harder tone. The
Wisconsin congressman has vowed that Romney would overturn the kind of
White House order that Obama used in offering work permits to the
children of illegal immigrants.
"Here's the great thing about a
Mitt Romney presidency. For an executive order that came from the last
president, the new president can undo it," Ryan told voters in Lima,
Ohio, on 24 September. "We're planning that."
Speaking in Iowa on
Tuesday, Ryan was quizzed by a voter about a Fox News interview last
weekend in which he said he could not quickly explain to the interviewer
which tax loopholes he and Romney would scrap to allow them to cut tax
"Why aren't you more specific? I heard you, was it Sunday
when you were on Fox? And you didn't answer his question about what are
your plans," the woman asked.
Ryan said: "When you get into a
math conversation, it can take a little while. ... There is plenty of
fiscal room to keep these important preferences for middle-class
taxpayers, you know, like charitable donations or buying a home or