Romney hedges on immigration plan

2012-04-24 08:37

Aston - Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican nominee in the race to challenge President Barack Obama, appeared alongside potential running mate Senator Marco Rubio on Monday, but stopped short of endorsing his immigration plan.

The Cuban-American senator has been the subject of deep speculation and considered a top potential pick for vice president, not only because of his conservative credentials but also because he is seen as being able to shore-up badly needed support from the Latino community.

Romney said he's considering the freshman Florida senator's plan to help some young people stay in the country legally while denying them an opportunity to become citizens.

"I anticipate before the November election we'll be laying out whole series of policies that relate to immigration and obviously our first priority is to secure the border, and yet we also have very substantial visa programmes in this country," Romney said as he stood next to Rubio and answered reporters' questions for the first time since effectively securing the Republican presidential nomination.

Romney's answers illustrate the careful line he has to walk as he transitions from a brutal Republican primary and into the general election, where he'll have to tussle with Obama for support from the Hispanic, women and young voters who propelled the Democrat to victory in 2008.


Obama, meanwhile, has to hang on to those constituencies. His Tuesday-Wednesday tour through North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa is intended to rally the young supporters he needs again in November.

Romney tacked to the right on immigration during the primary but in recent days, he's been highlighting Hispanic concerns at events while leaving out much of the rhetoric he embraced earlier this year.

Still, he wouldn't go so far as to embrace Rubio's immigration proposal, saying only that it has "many features to commend it". The freshman Florida senator has said his goal is to craft a Republican compromise on the so-called DREAM Act that Romney could support.

The DREAM Act, which has languished on Capitol Hill, would provide a path to citizenship for some young illegal immigrants who attend college or serve in the military.

Rubio said he was no longer commenting on the process. He has said he doesn't want the running-mate slot, and some Republicans have urged him to consider running for the top slot in 2016.