Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney on Thursday made an appeal to Hispanic voters, a constituency that opinion surveys suggest remains strongly committed to President Barack Obama ahead of this year’s U.S. election. Romney spoke to a group of Latino elected officials meeting in Florida and the president is expected to address the same group on Friday.
In his speech, Romney focused on the domestic economy, arguing that Hispanic families have suffered along with the rest of the country during Mr. Obama’s time in office.
“I’d ask each of you to honestly look at the last three and one-half years and ask whether we can do better,” he said. “Is the America of 11 percent Hispanic unemployment the America of our dreams? We can do better.”
The former Massachusetts governor has been on the defensive in recent days, following the recent announcement by President Obama to end the deportation of many children of illegal aliens, a move popular with the nation’s immigrant community.
Romney said he would take a different approach, but offered no specifics.
“I will put in place my own long term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure,” he said. “As president I won’t settle for stopgap measures.”
Romney said he would address the issue of illegal immigration in a civil, but resolute manner and restated his support for a border fence between the United States and Mexico.
Romney and his rivals for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination took a hard line on illegal immigration during this year’s primary campaign, and some Hispanic voters were offended by some of the harsh rhetoric.
Last week, President Obama announced a change in policy that will let many young people brought to the United States illegally to remain in the country to study and pursue careers.