Mitt Romney has begun a much-anticipated speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, which you can watch live here:
I’ll be adding some excerpts from the speech, as well as some commentary as we go along, so be sure to refresh the page in another tab.
The reason this has such a high profile is because of Barack Obama’s immigration policy change announced last week. Romney will attack it as “a temporary stop-gap measure”:
For two years, this President had huge majorities in the House and Senate – he was free to pursue any policy he pleased. But he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Instead, he failed to act until facing a tough re-election and trying to secure your vote.Last week, the President finally offered a temporary measure that he seems to think will be just enough to get him through the election. After three and a half years of putting every issue from loan guarantees for his donors to Cash For Clunkers before immigration, now the President has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on Day One. I think you deserve better.Some people have asked if I will let stand the President’s executive action. The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President’s temporary measure.
As President, I won’t settle for a stop-gap measure. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution. I will prioritize measures that strengthen legal immigration and make it easier. And I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner. We may not always agree, but when I make a promise to you, I will keep it.
This is a smart attack, one that negates to some extent the impact of the leadership bump from announcing unilateral action. It’s a tough promise to keep, though Romney will probably have more room to work than Obama does now.
Romney started off with the economy, though, not with immigration policy:
The middle class has been crushed under President Obama. More Americans are living in poverty today than at any point in history. Over two million more Hispanics are living in poverty today than the day President Obama took office.Home values have plunged, our national debt is at record levels and families are buried under higher prices for food and gasoline
And yet our President says the private sector is doing fine. This is more than a policy failure; it is a moral failure.
He also got in a dig at Obama’s commitment to NALEO, pointing out that Obama’s appearance at the event tomorrow will be his first since 2008, the last time he needed NALEO’s votes.
Commenters are also noting that Romney got applause on repealing ObamaCare and pushing for school choice. The latter is a good point to push; Gallup’s latest poll shows that confidence in public schools is at an all-time low.
On these points for reform, though, the applause was less enthusiastic:
Our immigration system should help promote strong families, not keep them apart. Our nation benefits when moms and dads and their kids are all living together under the same roof. But, today, too many families are caught in a broken system that costs them time and money and entangles them in red tape. For those seeking to come to America the right way, that kind of bureaucratic nightmare has to end. And we can do this with just a few common-sense reforms.As President, I will reallocate Green Cards to those seeking to keep their families under one roof. We will exempt from caps the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents. And we will eliminate other forms of bureaucratic red tape that keep families from being together.
This line did better:
And if you get an advanced degree here, we want you to stay here – so we will staple a green card to your diploma.
Update: The speech just finished. Romney got a polite and occasionally warm reception at NALEO for his speech. He got mobbed after leaving the stage, but the applause never seemed overwhelming. In this case, though, the effort counts more than the reception. Romney laid down some key markers for tomorrow’s appearance by Barack Obama on the economy and immigration reform. NALEO attendees at least have to consider Romney’s argument that Obama didn’t bother to address their agenda when he could have won practically any outcome he wished in 2009 and 2010 — and may want to hear from Obama as to why he hasn’t bothered to come around until the Latino vote suddenly looked like less of a lock.
Update II: I replaced the live video stream with the video of the speech, via The Right Scoop.