According to Newt Gingrich — and Democrats — Mitt Romney is the “most anti-immigrant candidate.” But, is he also the only Mexican-American candidate?
That was the question posed to Romney by Univision’s Jorge Ramos as part of Univision’s “Meet the Candidates” Forum on Wednesday. The question comes from the fact that Romney’s father, George Romney, was born in a Mormon colony in Mexico. Under the Mexican constitution, that made his father a Mexican citizen. Romney decided to make light of the question:
“I would love to be able to convince people of that,” Romney joked in response, “particularly in a primary in Florida.” But, he added, “I don’t think people would think I was being honest with them if I said I was Mexican-American.”
Romney kept up the joke throughout the interview, asking Ramos to spread the word that he was Mexican-American. When Ramos mentioned at the end of the interview that, according to a Univision poll, Romney would get less than 25% of the Latino vote in a match-up against President Obama, Romney replied: “Just wait” until Ramos gets “that quote out there about me being Mexican-American.”
Joking aside, the interview focused on areas of disagreement between Romney and the vast majority of the Latino population — almost 90% of which support the Dream Act while Romney says he would veto it. In between the jokes, Romney explained that despite the violence and poverty in Mexico today, he endorsed a policy of making it so hard for undocumented immigrants to find work that they return to their country of origin.
On the issue of college education for Dreamers, Romney denied that just because he opposed the Dream Act, young undocumented immigrants couldn’t go to college. When Ramos said they couldn’t afford it, Romney responded that there were inexpensive colleges — seeming to ignore the fact that, being undocumented, you can’t just take out loans or get financial aid in most states. Romney’s immigration proposals provide little breathing room for undocumented immigrants, especially from a candidate whose family has a history of crossing back and forth across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.