Romney steps up effort to woo Latino voters in Univision forum
Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney stepped up efforts to woo Latino voters Wednesday in a forum broadcast live online by the Spanish-language Univision network.
The forum, broadcast from the University of Miami, comes several weeks after co-host Jorge Ramos criticized the Commission on Presidential Debates for not picking a Latino debate moderator.
"I think that they should have noticed that this country is changing very rapidly," Ramos told CNN in August. "Minorities, for instance, surpass whites in U.S. births, and those changes simply are not reflected. I really can't believe why they didn't choose a member of a minority group to be part of at least one debate, and I really can't understand why (the commission didn't pick) a journalist from the fastest (growing) voting block in the country, the Latinos."
Minutes into the forum, Ramos and co-host Maria Elena Salinas asked Romney about his stance on immigration.
"The immigrations system I think we all agree is broken and it's been a political football for years and years...and it needs to be fixed," Romney said.
He criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for pledging to fix the problem, but not delivering.
"When I'm president, I will actually do what I promise, I will put in place an immigration reform system that resolves this issue," Romney said.
The Republican candidate offered few specifics about his plan, but praised previous proposals by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Asked whether he would deport so-called "dreamers" -- young illegal immigrants brought to America as children who want to study and work in the country where they grew up -- he responded, "I'm not going to be rounding people up and deporting them. We're going to put in place a permanent solution."
Romney has struggled in the past to frame his positions on immigration in ways that appeal to Hispanic voters as well as the conservative base of the Republican Party.
Unable to close ground on Obama in the polls, the GOP challenger seeks to woo Hispanic American voters but has found himself hindered by the conservative stance he took on immigration policy to win the Republican primary campaign.
Now, his opposition to Obama's popular move this summer to halt deportations of some children of illegal immigrants puts Romney at odds with a majority of Latino voters, especially younger ones in the fastest-growing demographic of the U.S. population.
The ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions weekly tracking poll reported Monday that Obama held a 68%-26% advantage over Romney among Hispanic Americans.
A Gallup poll conducted partially before and partially after the Republican National Convention at the end of August said Obama leads Romney among Latino registered voters 64%-27%.
Obama is scheduled to appear in another "Meet the Candidates" forum hosted by Univision on Thursday.