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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

McCain's secret Orlando talk with Hispanics



The Obama campaign today jumped on a private meeting John McCain held with Hispanic leaders in Chicago, where he said he would push for comprehensive immigration reform. "He's one John McCain in front of white Republicans. And he's a different John McCain in front of Hispanics," Rosanna Pulido, a Hispanic and conservative Republican who was at the meeting, told the Associated Press.

Turns out McCain had a secret meeting with Hispanics in Orlando. It came after a speech to newspaper editors earlier this month in which McCain said: "The lesson we learned is (voters) want the borders secured first. We can do it with walls. We can do it vehicle barriers. We can do it with sensors and cameras."

So did McCain say something else to the dozen Hispanics at the Hilton?

Boardofcountycommissioners_boardofcNope, said one of people who attended. Immigration did not even come up. The discussion focused on family, health care and jobs. "That’s what people really care about," said former state Rep. John Quinones, now an Osceola County Commissioner.

"In central Florida, the immigration issue is not as distinct," Quinones said, referring to the large Puerto Rican population. Puerto Ricans who come to the U.S. are already citizens. (Cubans are similarly positioned, receiving amnesty when they arrive here.)

"While they will sympathize with people who have struggled to come here, they are more concerned with issues like access to health care and better jobs," Quinones said. "But," he added, "obviously the immigration issue isn’t going to go away.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:24am]


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