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Posted CWN:  June 23, 2012

by Tony Lee

President Barack Obama has taken the Hispanic vote for granted, according to Mitt Romney in a much-anticipated speech to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) in Florida on Thursday. 

“He’s taking your vote for granted,” Romney said of Obama. “I’ve come here today with a simple message: You do have an alternative. Your vote should be respected.”

Romney was referring to Obama’s inaction on immigration even though Democrats were in the majority in the House and Senate when he became president.

Romney said Obama, because he cannot sell his economic policies that have left more Latinos (11% as opposed to 8%) unemployed than the general population, will simply tell Hispanics that “things could be worse” and “imply that you really don’t have an alternative.”

Romney’s remarks were eagerly anticipated in light of Obama’s announcement last Friday that his administration would take actions to not deport illegal immigrants under 30 years of age who came to the country as children and even give some work visas. Critics responded that Obama was circumventing the legislative process and the will of the American people by implementing immigration policy by fiat.

If he became president, Romney claimed, he would “put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President’s temporary measure,” but left out specifics. Romney did offer some specific measure he would take to strengthen legal immigration, such as reallocating Green Cards to those seeking to keep their families under one roof, exempting “from caps the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents,” proverbially stapling a green card to immigrants who get advanced degrees, and allowing for a “a path to legal status for anyone who is willing to stand up and defend this great nation through military service.”

Governor Romney is in an electoral bind. He outflanked many of his Republican rivals to the right on immigration in the GOP primary, and that was one of the only areas in which he won the trust of conservatives. And any temptation Romney could have to tilt to the center on immigration will be tempered by two forces. First, doing so will add to the “flip-flopper” stereotype that is his biggest liability. Second, the white working class voters who are fleeing from Obama’s economic policies en masse and whose votes Romney will have to win by wide margins, are some of the most conservative when it comes to illegal immigration, particularly the effect illegal immigration has on labor and wages in a down economy.

Romney told the audience the story of his American father who was born in Mexico. He recounted how his grandfather and father lived in poverty at times.

“My Dad didn’t finish college,” Romney said. “But he believed in a country where the circumstances of one’s birth were not a barrier to achievement. This is my father’s story – but it could be any American’s.”

Romney then turned the focus back to the economy, asking, “Is the America of 11% Hispanic unemployment the America of our dreams?”

For Romney to make inroads among Hispanic voters, he has to convince them that their children could become successful like his own father and that Obama, with his poor economic policies, threatens to leave an America in which the notion that one’s children will live in a better and more prosperous nation than the one they inherited is no longer possible.

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