Given that Florida is over 22.5% Hispanic, it is not surprising that in anticipation of the Florida primary next week the GOP primary frontrunners, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, took time to participate in a forum yesterday put together by the largest Spanish television network Univision and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The candidates sat down with one of the most influential Spanish language political journalists, Univision’s Jorge Ramos for in depth interviews re: immigration and more. (We live-tweeted both interviews here.)
The first candidate up, Newt Gingrich, received according to the NYT Caucus Blog, “one of the toughest” grilling of his campaign. The former Speaker came out swinging: when Ramos asked him about Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” plan, articulated at Monday night’s debate in Tampa, Gingrich burst out laughing.
“How close are you to breaking up laughing out loud?” he asked Ramos. “I think you have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic – you know, $20 million a year of no work – to have a fantasy this far from reality. For Romney to believe that somebody’s grandmother is going to be so cut off that she is going to self deport. He certainly shows no concern for the humanity of people who are already here.“
They also discussed Gingrich’s guest-worker permits plan and his support of the portion of the DREAM Act that gives undocumented youth who sign up for the military a path toward legalization. Gingrich has already explained he doesn’t support giving a path to citizenship to youth that attend college and believes they should pay out-of-state tuition rates. He said:
“They can go to college… I wasn’t suggesting we run around and try to deport them. I have suggested that if they want to become citizens, they can join the military.”
Watch Newt Gingrich’s interview here: