Romney Tries to Soften Immigration Stance, But Is Losing Latinos

It may be too late for Romney to make up lost ground with Hispanic voters.

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DENVER­­­—Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who arrived in Denver on Monday ahead of the first scheduled presidential debate, made some news in Tuesday morning's Denver Post, telling the paper in an exclusive interview that he would not seek to deport any young illegal immigrants granted temporary visas through a policy change by the Obama administration.

"The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid," Romney told The Denver Post. "I'm not going to take something that they've purchased. Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I've proposed."

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Wooing Latino voters is crucial for Romney in many swing states, particularly Colorado. Though there were not many Hispanics in Romney's Monday night crowd, they do make up 20 percent of all Coloradans.

Romney's support among Latinos, according to a poll released Tuesday by Latino Decisions, continues to fall since the Republican convention, which highlighted top Latino officials. President Barack Obama leads Romney 77 percent to 23 percent in the group's latest tracking poll.

"For weeks … our results showed Romney holding steady between 28 percent and 30 percent of the Latino vote, but it seems that Obama's lead among Latinos is now growing," said a memo by Latino Decisions that accompanied the poll results.

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After a primary during which he staked out the most conservative immigration stance, Romney's campaign hoped to come back to win over Hispanic voters on pocketbook issues. The campaign set a goal of securing 38 percent of the Latino vote.

But Romney has failed to connect with Latino voters, Latino Decisions writes, highlighted by a less-reported remark Romney made during the secretly taped fundraiser in May. Romney joked that though his father was born in Mexico, it was to white American citizens, which he said was too bad—because otherwise it would help him win the presidential election.

And though Romney continues to vow to deliver on comprehensive immigration reform, something he constantly derides Obama for failure, he has neither enumerated principles for that reform nor outlined a plan for getting the controversial legislation through Congress.

Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at rmetzler@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter.

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