Republican nominee Mitt Romney had a burrito at Chipotle with Sen. Rob Portman on Tuesday in Denver — the city where the national Tex-Mex chain began. That same day, he announced he would not revoke the two-year work-permits being given by President Barack Obama to roughly 1.26 million illegal immigrants.
He also released a Spanish-language TV ad and posted a pro-immigration statement aimed at Hispanic voters that criticized Obama’s “temporary, stop-gap measure” to defer deportation for select young illegals.
The ad, titled “Legado,” highlighted Obama’s economic record, which has pushed the national debt to $16 trillion and youth unemployment to near 50 percent.
Romney’s late-campaign reach for Hispanic voters came as yet another poll showed him performing poorly among Democratic-leaning Hispanics.
“Fifty-one percent of Latino voters in ten battleground states said they trust Obama and the Democrats more to make the right decisions and improve economic conditions, compared to 27 percent for Romney and Republicans,” according to a poll conducted by Latino Decisions, which tracks Hispanic political views.
Overall, “in the battleground states Obama gets 61 percent of the [Hispanic] voters versus 33 percent for Romney,” the tracking poll showed.
Obama has vigorously pursued those Hispanic voters with offers of economic aid, government health care and deferred deportations for family members and friends, regardless of skill levels or national unemployment.
These offers are especially effective because immigrant and native Hispanics have been hard hit by the economic downturn during Obama’s presidency.
The economy is suffering from record unemployment and a simultaneous drop in wages, as well as a continued drop in housing prices and family wealth.
However, even if Romney’s outreach fails to boost his numbers among Hispanics, it might keep him near 30 percent, and also reduce overall turnout among Hispanics, who have been hit hard by record unemployment in Obama’s economy.
A lower turnout could cost Obama twice as many votes as it would cost Romney.
Nonetheless, Romney’s outreach to Hispanics also makes it harder for him to play the immigration card in to win the votes of white working-class and middle-class voters in the Midwest.
Fifty-seven percent of “white working-class Americans … agree that illegal immigrants taking jobs that would otherwise be filled by American citizens are responsible for our current economic problems,” according to an August survey of 2,501 Americans by the Public Religion Research Institute.
Romney needs their vote to overcome Obama’s advantages among women, African-Americans and union members. But an August survey by the Pew Research Center showed that Romney is trailing among working-class whites by 36 to 44 percent in the Midwest. (RELATED: Analysis: In Obama’s economy, immigrants outpace native-born Americans)
“Mitt Romney will keep in place any temporary waivers and work permits the Obama Administration grants. … These young people have already been subject to enough uncertainty and politicking; Mitt Romney will not add to it,” said an Oct. 2 statement from Dimple Gupta, legal policy adviser for Romney.
The Romney campaign’s statement then promised easier immigration for current immigrants’ immediate family members, regardless of education or of skill level, and also promised to import more workers for the economy.
President Romney will “cut red tape that is burdening legal immigrants and keeping immediate family members apart [and] ensure we admit the workers our economy needs to grow and create jobs,” read the statement.
Gupta said Romney will “find a solution for the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the shadows — including those who were brought to America as children,” the statement continued.