WASHINGTONRepublican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney praised the
virtues of faith, family values and immigration as he courted Hispanic voters.
“If you say, name people who are hardworking, seek
education, love God, love their families and value freedom, — it’s
Hispanic-Americans, just like other Americans,” Romney told a crowd at the
Republican National Hispanic Assembly’s annual convention.
Praising Hispanics as “quintessentially American,”
the former Massachusetts governor
said the nation’s immigration policy should help open doors for people with
such strong beliefs.
“I want to make sure we continue an open door in immigration
that welcomes people who come here with those kinds of values,” he said.
During an Iowa
visit last week, Romney struck a hard line on illegal immigration. He
criticized GOP rival and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for making
the city “a sanctuary city for illegal aliens” by failing to enforce
the immigration laws on the books. Also in his Iowa
remarks, Romney noted that as governor, he deputized state police to enforce
immigration laws and denied driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
Candidates in both major parties are reaching out to
Hispanic voters, underscoring their status as the largest and fastest-growing
minority group in the 2008 campaign.
Romney said Republicans should not cede the Latino vote to
Democrats. Though Hispanics tend to favor Democrats in national elections,
President Bush got about 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004.
“It’s very important that we as a party communicate how
much we value immigration,” he told the breakfast audience.
Romney has been seeking support from the Hispanic community in Florida and elsewhere. He hired a Spanish-language media adviser in Florida. He also ran a radio ad targeting Spanish-speaking voters.
– Associated Press
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