[lg policy] In Hunt for Latino Votes, Romney Softens Some Positions
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Wed Mar 21 14:40:41 UTC 2012
In Hunt for Latino Votes, Romney Softens Some Positions
By AMY BINGHAM (@Amy_Bingham)
March 20, 2012
Mitt Romney won a landslide victory over Rick Santorum in Puerto Rico
last weekend and Santorum is not taking his 75-point defeat lightly.
Santorum, who spent two full days campaigning in the Caribbean island,
congratulated Romney on his victory in a press release late Sunday
night, but in the same breath accused the former governor of pandering
to Puerto Rico's Latino voters by switching his position on making
English the official language of every U.S. state.
"Their decision to put political expedience and political deception
ahead of previously held policy positions further erodes their
candidate's credibility and trust," Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley
said of the Romney campaign in the statement. "We all know Mitt Romney
will do and say anything to get votes, and this is just another
example of that."
But just how much of a conservative two-step did Romney dance while
courting Puerto Ricans? Here's a look at some of the positions Romney
softened, and those he stood by while attempting to woo Latino voters.
Matthew Jaffe, who is covering the 2012 campaign for ABC News and
Univision, contributed to this report
English as the Official Language
After Santorum was skewered for saying Puerto Rico would have to make
English their official language in order to become a state, Romney
toned down his own position on the issue while campaigning in Puerto
Rico last week."I don't have preconditions that I would impose,"
Romney said shortly after touching down on the Island Friday. "English
has been an official language of Puerto Rico for 100 years and I think
selecting the words of your governor, Spanish is the language of
Puerto Rico's heritage, English is the language of opportunity."
Both languages are currently considered "official" in the island
territory and Romney encouraged young people to "learn both." While he
emphasized the importance of learning English, he did not say it
should be the sole official language.
But that's not what he said during debates in January. "I believe
English should be the official language of the United States," Romney
said on the debate stage.
The U.S. currently does not have an "official" language. If English
was adopted as the "official" language, no government documents could
be printed or written in any language besides English. Many federal
documents are currently printed in both Spanish and English. At
another January debate, Romney noted that "English is the language of
this nation" and touted his efforts as the governor of Massachusetts
to get rid of bilingual education in favor of English emersion
"People need to learn English to be successful to get great jobs,"
Romney said at the NBC Debate. "We don't want to have people to be
limited in their ability to achieve the American Dream because they
don't speak English."
A Romney spokeswoman disputed that Romney's position had changed,
arguing that even though Romney supports making English the official
language of the U.S., that would have no bearing on Puerto Rico
becoming a state. "These positions are not at odds," said campaign
spokeswoman Andrea Saul in an email. "What the federal government does
regarding the official language is separate from what states do."
The Dream Act
Romney has been firm in his opposition to the Dream Act, which would
give undocumented minors a path to legal residency if they attend
college or join the military.
While campaigning in Iowa Romney explicitly said he would veto the
Dream Act if elected president. As governor of Massachusetts he vetoed
the state version of the bill which would have provided in-state
tuition to undocumented immigrants.
"The answer is yes," Romney said of whether he would veto the
legislation at the federal level.
Romney later added that giving "special benefits" to "people who come
here illegally" was "contrary to the idea of the nation of law."
Romney would, however, support giving legal status to undocumented
immigrants who serve in the military.
"I am delighted with the idea that people who come to this country and
wish to serve in the military can be given a path to become permanent
residents in this country," he said while campaigning in Iowa. "Those
who serve in our military and fulfill those requirements I respect and
acknowledge that path."
Romney has more recently focused on this portion of the Dream Act that
he does support.
"I wouldn't sign the Dream Act as it currently exists, but I would
sign the Dream Act if it were focused on military service," Romney
said during a debate in Florida, where 22 percent of the state's
population is Hispanic.
A Latino Decisions poll conducted for Univision showed that 84 percent
of Latinos nationwide support the Dream Act.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
While Romney softened his firm opposition to the Dream Act while
talking to Latino voters, he stood firm on his condemnation of Supreme
Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose parents are from Puerto Rico.
While campaigning in Puerto Rico last week, Romney said he would
support a Puerto Rican Supreme Court justice, just not one whose
"philosophy is quite different than my own."
He also dubbed Sotomayor "an activist, a liberal jurist."
The former governor launched a campaign ad against Santorum,
criticizing the former Pennsylvania senator for voting to appoint
Sotomayor to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998, a post that
put her on the fast track to the Supreme Court, the ad claims.
Romney has never been a Sotomayor fan. During her bitter confirmation
process in 2009 Romney said her nomination to the Supreme Court was
"There are some things she said that are troubling for those of us who
believe that the job of a justice is to follow the law and the
Constitution, not to create law," Romney said in 2009, according to
Self-Deportation of Undocumented Immigrants
Romney has stood firm on his opposition to amnesty for undocumented
immigrants, but his views on deporting the millions of illegal
immigrants who are already in America took a new twist during this
At a Florida debate in January, Romney said he supports
"self-deportation," in which conditions would become so unbearable for
undocumented immigrants that they would chose to leave the country.
"The answer is self-deportation," Romney said at an NBC debate.
"People decide that they can do better by going home because they
can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to
allow them to work here."
Under Romney's plan, legal immigrants would have a card proving they
were eligible to work in the United States. Without a card, Romney
said people would not be able to find work.
"If people don't get work here, they're going to self-deport to a
place they can get work," he concluded.
But during his 2008 bid for the presidency, Romney said undocumented
immigrants should be allowed to stay in the country for a "set period"
while applying for legal residency. If that is not granted within the
allotted amount of time, he said they should return home.
"Those 12 million who've come here illegally should be given the
opportunity to sign up to stay here, but they should not be given any
advantage in becoming a permanent resident or citizen by virtue of
simply coming here illegally," Romney told with NBC's Tim Russert
during the 2008 campaign.
"For the great majority, they'll be going home," Romney added,
stopping short of saying those unapproved immigrants would be
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