ORLANDO, Fla. — Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) delivers a much-anticipated address to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials annual conference Thursday afternoon.
Romney’s speech, which comes on the eve of President Obama’s address to the influential Hispanic organization, is worth watching closely both for clues as to the GOP’s pitch to Hispanic voters this fall as well as for an indication of the course Romney will take on immigration reform.
Here are five things to watch for in the speech (for more, check out our full story on PostPolitics.com):
1. Will Romney comment on the merits of President Obama’s move to halt some deportations?
Romney could do as other top Republicans have done and criticize the manner in which Obama made his move without addressing the deportation issue itself.
Or he could chart a different course and comment on the substance of Obama’s plan.
As we note in today’s story, Romney thus far has done the former. If he keeps up his “stay mum” approach, he doubles down on his effort to focus on the economy but also risks ceding to Obama a large chunk of the Hispanic electorate supportive of measures such as the DREAM Act, on which Obama’s order was partially based.
Watch to see whether Romney gives any further details — what he says is equally important as what he doesn’t say.
2. Does Romney criticize (or praise) Obama by name?
Praise for Obama from Romney would be a signal that the presumptive GOP nominee’s team is deeply concerned about the impact of the president’s immigration move last week on the Hispanic vote.
Criticism of Obama’s action as unilateral and political would be in keeping with Romney’s statement from last week; any criticism beyond that could be a sign that Romney is trying to out-maneuver Obama on the issue. (Does Romney argue that Obama has failed to keep his pledge to achieve immigration reform? Does Romney draw attention to the number of people deported under Obama?)
3. Will Romney sketch out his own broader agenda on immigration reform?
If he does, he will likely face a tall task when it comes to wooing Hispanic voters while at the same time bringing the GOP base along with him. The challenge for Romney stands in contrast to Obama’s “evolution” and public embrace last month of same-sex marriage, a move that was a step toward the Democratic base and (potentially) away from the political middle.
4. How do congressional Republicans respond?
Democrats will likely respond to Romney’s speech as Republicans responded to Obama’s move last week — by criticizing it as politically motivated. But watch to see what Republicans on Capitol Hill do. They’re the ones whose support Romney needs most if the GOP is planning a counter-offensive against Obama on immigration reform. Members such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are key when it comes to reaching across the aisle, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are the ones faced with rallying the troops.
5. Will Romney take questions from reporters on his immigration position?
We’re guessing the answer to this one is probably not. But a blogger can hope.