ORLANDO, Fla. -- Former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) told reporters Thursday afternoon that he was “very pleased” with Mitt Romney’s address to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
“I didn’t hear much ambiguity,” said Bush, the popular former governor who has urged members of his party to strike a more moderate tone on immigration and Hispanics.
“I heard a consistent message of border control, but I think he expanded it out to talk about reforming the immigration system itself, allowing people to serve in the military to be able to get legal residency; to work with Democrats -- which is a new concept, where actually Republicans and Democrats can work together for long-term, comprehensive reform rather than stop-gap measures.”
“I liked it,” he added. “I was very pleased with it.”
As the Hispanic population continues to rise -- particularly in key battleground states, including Florida -- Bush said that he believes that Romney’s address to the NALEO conference could be a step toward building bridges between the GOP and Hispanic voters.
“It’s not just Florida, but Hispanic votes in four, five swing states could make the difference, which is why I’m really pleased that Gov. Romney is here at the NALEO conference and has made a major effort to campaign in Hispanic communities, to get to know what the aspirations are and to share his views,” he said. “I thought it was a great speech.”
Asked whether he thought President Obama’s move last week to halt some deportations of young immigrants brought to the U.S. as chuildren pre-empted the efforts of Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bush was unequivocal.
“Yeah. Yeah I did,” he said. “Pre-empted, maybe without having the legal authority to do so. But it was a purely political move to pre-empt, and that’s exactly what the motive was. He’s had supermajorities in the House and Senate to fulfill his promise he made in the last campaign, and what we’ve heard are crickets. I mean, not a single move. And then to do this was a good political move. Bad policy in the sense that it’s a stopgap -- it creates continued uncertainty for a whole lot of people who don’t deserve it.”
Bush is slated to address the NALEO conference later Thursday.