Romney's big immigration speech: Did he convince Latinos?

The Week

The Republican presidential candidate promised real reform, dismissing President Obama's softer deportation policy as pandering, in hopes of winning over voters

In a major address on immigration Thursday, Mitt Romney accused President Obama of taking Hispanic voters for granted. Romney said Obama's recent decision to stop deporting some illegal immigrants who arrived as children was just pandering, and he promised to replace the policy with "bipartisan and long-term immigration reform." In a reversal of his previous stance, Romney said he would offer green cards to young illegal immigrants who graduate from college — a key part of the Democrats' DREAM Act — rather than only to those who served in the military. The speech, to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, was part of a push to cut into Obama's advantage among Hispanic voters. Did Romney make any headway?

Romney's pandering fell flat: Romney promised something "permanent instead of temporary. Woo hoo," says Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast. "Casual lies," like the one about how Obama has ignored Hispanics, won't "move the needle much" after the way Romney "used brown people to whip white Republican primary voters into a rage" in the primaries. Romney will do better putting smiling Latinos on stage at the convention — that's the kind of outreach Republicans do best.
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At least Hispanics are giving Romney a second look: Romney's attack on Obama's deportation policy as a stop-gap measure was "smart," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. It negates some of the "leadership bump" Obama got from acting unilaterally. Romney also made sure that when Obama addresses the same group on Friday, people will be thinking about the "argument that Obama didn't bother to address their agenda when he could have won practically any outcome he wished in 2009 and 2010."
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Losing the harsh tone is a start: The most notable thing in the speech was that Romney "dropped the confrontational tone he took on immigration during the Republican primary," say Michael D. Shear and Trip Gabriel at The New York Times. He courted conservatives by talking about "self-deportation," and the wisdom of Arizona's harsh immigration law. Romney wants to talk about the economy, but he has to strike a civil tone on immigration if he wants Hispanic voters to listen.
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