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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dems single out Romney and his immigration policies to attack

26

January

The Democratic National Committee has handicapped Tuesday's presidential primary in Florida and  come to the conclusion that Mitt Romney is the likely winner or the bigger threat. 

On a conference call with reporters Thursday, Democratic political consultant Freddy Balsera of Miami and state Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, spent 20 minutes blasting Romney for his shifting position on the DREAM act, his "anti-immigrant" rhetoric, and his "ridiculous" suggestion that the solution to illegal immigration is that people will "self deport." Never once did they mention his Republican rivals, particularly former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is running in a virtual dead heat with the former Massachusetts governor in recent polls.

"I wish Mitt Romney the best in trying to win over Hispanics as he has been anti-Hispanic out of the state and then comes in here and says he believes in us,'' Soto said. "He has been a flip-flopper since the beginning and he is going to say anything he can, and everything he can."

When asked about Gingrich's policies, Soto said they have not been as "radical" or as inconsistent. "So he hasn't opened himself up to being attacked as much."

Why all the attention on Romney? One reason may be the results of the Newsmax/Insider Advantage poll released Wednesday that had Romney ahead of Gingrich 66-34 percent among likely Republican presidential primary voters. And a poll out Thursday morning by Quinnipiac University shows that in Florida, Romney remains a stronger threat to President Obama than Gingrich.

Romney campaign spokesman Alberto Martinez said Romney has not shifted his position on the DREAM act. "He has been consistent in opposing it in its present form, while supporting the military provision throughout the whole campaign,'' he said.

Balsera said that since national attention has moved to Florida, Romney has attempted to shore up his Hispanic support. He delivered a speech from Miami's Freedom Tower Wednesday, the historic building on the Miami Dade College campus that once housed the processing center for Cuban refugee. Balsera called it an ironic location because the college was "the incubator" of the DREAM act, which Romney originally promised to veto but in the last week has backtracked, noting that he would support the piece of the proposal that would allow a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who join the military.

"If Romney becomes the Republican nominee, his position would be the most extreme of any presidential nominee of our time," Balsera said. "He continues to bank to the far right and pander to the Tea Party, saying and standing for anything he thinks will get him elected."

A poll out Thursday morning by Quinnipiac University shows that in Florida, Romney remains a stronger threat to President Obama than Gingrich.

"It all comes down to one basic point: Newt Gingrich hasn’t attacked his rivals in the presidential primary because of their immigration stance whereas Mitt Romney has,'' Balsera said. "Depending on the audience, he's speaking to change his message,'' he said. He noted that Romney's harsh attacks on former presidential candidate Rick Perry's immigration policies also made him a target.

Martinez suggested the timing of the attack follows a pattern. "Is it Groundhog Day? Every time a new poll comes out showing Romney rising among Hispanics and President Obama plummeting, the Democrats trot out the same politicians to attack common sense reforms and pander to liberals on immigration,'' he said.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 26, 2012 3:17pm]

    

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