Romney’s Latino Pitch: `Politics Has Been Put Ahead of People’

Photograph by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Mitt Romney addresses the Latino Coalition's 2012 Small Business Summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on May 23, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Republican Mitt Romney, the winner of a party presidential primary contest that tested how tough candidates were willing to talk about illegal immigration, will try to make amends today with a speech in Los Angeles embracing “a nation of immigrants.”

As noted by Bloomberg’s John McCormick, in California today for Romney’s address to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Romney is working against not only a two-to-one deficit among Latino voters nationally, but also an advantage for President Barack Obama that has grown since the parties’ conventions:

“Romney has lost ground in polls following the political conventions in late August and early September,” McCormick writes. “The debate has shifted to issues around the new national health care law’s coverage of pre-existing conditions and the administration’s handling of protests in Libya and other Middle Eastern nations. A poll released Sept. 14 by CBS and the New York Times showed Obama taking a three percentage point edge over Romney.”

Romney today will, in effect, attempt to talk around his party’s debate on illegal immigration — the one in which he spoke of “self-deportation” and pledged to repeal the Dream Act. “When it comes to immigration,” he plans to say, “politics has been put ahead of people for too long.”

He’ll talk past the fact that Obama, failing to win that act in Congress, effectively has ordered a limited implementation of it. Romney will speak more broadly about the economy, its impact on working people and the president’s inability to right it — this is the message that fellow Republicans such as Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, have encouraged Romney to deliver: A common message for all Americans which also appeals to the fast-growing constituency of Latino voters.

In L.A. today, Romney plans to talk about more than 23 million Americans who are “out of work, underemployed or have just quit looking for a job.” He will say: “The number of people on food stamps has risen by almost 15 million since President Obama took office,” according to excerpts released by his campaign. “Median household income has fallen for four years in a row.”

Here is more of the excerpt:

Seeing such a poor jobs and income picture, the Federal Reserve has announced that it will once again print more money. The Fed knows this comes with a high cost and risk for the future, but it feels it has no choice: Our leaders in Washington have failed to produce a real recovery.

No one is exempt from the pain of this economy, but the Hispanic community has been particularly hard hit. While national unemployment is 8.1 percent, Hispanic unemployment is over 10 percent. Over two million more Hispanics are living in poverty today than the day President Obama took office.

In 2008, candidate Obama promised us a world of limitless hope. What we got instead is a world where hope has painful limits — limits that make it harder to start a business, to grow a business, or to find a job.

I expected the president, at his convention, to talk about the unemployed and to unveil a jobs plan. Astonishingly, he did not. I have a plan, and my plan for a stronger middle class will create 12 million jobs by the end of my first term. And it will raise take home pay.

My plan is premised on the conviction that it is freedom that drives our economy–that free people, creating free enterprises, is what creates good jobs with good wages. Government supports the job creators, but it cannot take their place.

[W]e must cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget. I believe that it is immoral for us to continue to spend more than we take in, to pass massive debts on to our children.

I’d like to spend some time talking about this issue in particular. As businessmen and women, and as Hispanics, you understand the threat President Obama’s spending poses for our future. Many Hispanics have sacrificed greatly to help build our country and our economy, and to leave for their children a brighter future. Today, those sacrifices are being squandered by a President who cannot stop spending.

I know how to balance budgets. We balanced our budget in my business, in the Olympics and every year in my state.

I will put the federal government on a track to a balanced budget by eliminating programs that are not absolutely essential. My test is this–is the program so critical that it is worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?

In addition, I will send a number of programs that have been growing uncontrollably fast back to the states where I will limit their funding to the rate of inflation, or in the case of Medicaid, to inflation plus one percent.

And finally, I will look to sharply increase the productivity of Washington by reducing federal government employment by 10% through attrition, by combining agencies and departments to reduce overhead, and by linking government compensation with that of the private sector. These things combined will reduce spending by $500 billion a year by the end of my first term.

I know small business, not because I studied it in school, but because I lived small business. And I know that small businesses are being crushed by President Obama’s policies. Too often, government regulators treat businesses like the enemy, and they crush them with an avalanche of regulations.

This is at the heart of the difference between President Obama and my vision for the American economy: he wants government to tax more and regulate more because he believes government can do a better job than you can. I believe in you. I believe you can do a better job than government. I believe that you, and that your dreams and freedoms, will build a stronger future for all of us, and for our children. This belief in free people and free enterprises is the American heritage. This is why America has outperformed the world.

Finally, I want to say a word about immigration. Americans may disagree about how to fix our immigration system, but I think we can all agree that it is broken. For years, Republicans and Democrats seem to have been more interested in playing politics with immigration than with actually fixing it.

Candidate Obama said that one of his highest priorities would be to fix immigration in his first year in office. Despite his party having majorities in both house of Congress, the president never even offered up a bill. Like so many issues confronting our nation, when it comes to immigration, politics has been put ahead of people for too long.

I will work with Republicans and Democrats to permanently fix our immigration system.

We will never achieve a legal immigration system that is fair and efficient if we do not first get control of our borders. I believe we can all agree that what we need are fair and enforceable immigration laws that will stem the flow of illegal immigration, while strengthening legal immigration.

America is a nation of immigrants, and immigration is essential to our economic growth and prosperity.


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