MIAMI — Continuing his efforts to court Latino voters, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said his campaign is “about the 100 percent” during a forum here Wednesday night hosted by the Spanish-language network Univision.
The first question for Romney, who has been dogged this week by a video recording in which he is heard dismissing 47 percent of Americans who he said are dependent on the government and don’t pay taxes, was whether he regretted the comments.
“Well, first of all this is a campaign about the 100%. And over the last several years, you have seen greater and greater divisiveness in this country. We had hoped to come back together but instead you have seen us pulled apart,” he said. “Politics has driven us apart in some respects. So, my campaign is about the 100% in America. And I am concerned about them.”
The forum, which President Obama will attend Thursday, gave Romney a chance to reach out to Latino voters, a bloc that will be crucial in this state, as well as Colorado and Nevada. A poll released Wednesday by Pew shows Obama leading Romney 69 to 24 percent among Hispanics.
The audience of several hundred, including students, teachers and business leaders, cheered loudly as Romney strode onto the stage at the University of Miami. He opened by noting the importance of attracting Latinos to his candidacy.
During the 35-minute discussion, he fielded questions on his immigration policy, same sex marriage, health care, higher education and his plans for jump starting the economy. At times the crowd booed the moderators when they asked touhh questions and pressed the GOP nominee for specifics.
On subject of immigration, Romney explained his "self-deportation" approach, saying that people would make their own choices to go back to their home countries, but he would not round up 12 million illegal immigrants.
During the primary race, Romney said that an Arizona measure which requires law enforcement officials to question the status of someone suspected of being here illegally, was a "model" for the nation.
“The reason there is an Arizona law, is because the federal government and specifically President Obama didn’t solve the immigration problem when he came into office, “ he said. “And so states are doing their best to try and solve it state by state and each state tries to solve it in their own way, but the right answer is ultimately to have a federal solution to make sure we have a robust and active legal immigration system, that we stop illegal immigration.”