Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will speak at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference tomorrow. Since Mitt Romney has refused to discuss immigration in front of Latino audiences or to respond directly to the news of the DREAMer protections announced last Friday, this event is highly anticipated.
Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated yesterday that Republicans across the country are waiting on Romney to announce his position on President Obama’s new action.
Today, Romney’s campaign abruptly ended a press call because all the questions were about immigration, prompting a Business Insider headline, “Mitt Romney Is Terrified Of Talking About Immigration.”
Here are some of the key questions we have for Romney, heading into tomorrow’s speech:
- If elected President, would he keep or repeal President Obama’s new DREAMer protection policy? Romney has to address whether he would or would not rescind the DREAMer protection order as President. He has thus far refused to provide an answer, ducking the question on Friday and on “Face the Nation” last Sunday. It will not be enough if Romney hides behind process arguments that focus on the legality of President Obama’s announcement (an inadequate line of argument to begin with) or if Romney engages in revisionist history and pretends a legislative path forward to protect DREAMers was viable this year. Instead, it means a direct answer about whether a President Romney would rescind the policy or not, and what plan he does support to address the status of DREAMers.
- Does he know how to say the word “immigration”? In recent appearances in front of Latino audiences, Romney has avoided discussing immigration. Romney did not mention “immigration” or “the DREAM Act” a single time in his speech before the Latino Coalition in late May. In early June, at a speech at a Hispanic-owned business in El Paso, TX, Romney similarly avoidedimmigration and focused solely on the economy. Now that the stakes are raised and the immigration issue is front and center in the public and media consciousness, it will be that much more difficult for the campaign to engage in their carefully-calibrated three-step Latino voter strategy that involves Romney avoiding the issue. Again, it’s not that Latino voters are single issue voters who only care about immigration – in fact, the economy and jobs remain the top voting issues for most Latinos. But immigration is a personal and defining issue for many Latino voters, and Latino voter engagement and mobilization will be a key factor in determining the outcome of the 2012 election.
- Does he stand by his hardline immigration comments from the primary season? We hope Romney will address – or be asked – whether if elected President he still plans to veto the DREAM Act; encourage laws like Arizona’s “show me your papers” SB 1070; and propose “self-deportation” policy for the entire nation. Latino voters need to know.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Romney has to say something about immigration at the NALEO conference tomorrow. But what? If he says what he said in the primaries he’ll be booed. If he pulls out his etch-a-sketch the far right will be apoplectic. And if he dodges the issue he will raise questions about whether he has the chops to be president. He’s painted himself into a corner and by ducking the issue this week he has only raised the stakes of his speech at NALEO. Given the importance of the Hispanic vote in this election, the fate of his candidacy could hang in the balance.