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Mitt Romney plans to talk economy, immigration before Latino group Thursday

WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney on Thursday is planning to give a speech before a Latino conference where he will outline new proposals on immigration, but will largely focus on how the economy has hit Hispanics particularly hard.

Romney’s advisers have scrambled over the past week to react to President Obama’s move on Friday to bypass Congress and provide a legal pathway for certain children of illegal immigrants to remain in the country.

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One source who is familiar with Romney’s plans said the speech would mention immigration but would be predominantly focused on the economy. The campaign has seen the address – in Orlando before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials – as a prominent platform for Romney to begin trying to reach out to the Hispanic voters who will be crucial in several swing states.

“Mostly he’s going to talk about the economy and the focus is going to be jobs for Hispanics,” the source said.

“He is going to talk about immigration and he’s going to propose some solutions that he hopes to enact in a bipartisan way,” added the source, who was not authorized to speak by the campaign and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The source said there would be some “new stuff” that Romney will propose, but declined to be more specific.

“Obviously he will attack the president on the political executive action that he just issued,” the source said. “We’re not going to shy away from attacking the president even if it’s at NALEO.”

Obama, who will address the same conference on Friday, last week shifted policy and said his administration would immediately stop certain deportations and instead grant work permits to up to 800,000 younger illegal immigrants. The policy, which has broad support in recent polls, could be reversed by a future administration, but Romney has declined several times to say whether he would reverse the order.

Romney’s campaign on Wednesday morning held a conference call to talk about the economy, but the call ended after the advisers fielded three questions on immigration.

“Governor Romney is speaking at NALEO tomorrow, and will have a few more things there to say about immigration,” said Lanhee Chen, the campaign’s policy director. “But the one thing we ought to focus on with immigration…is how the economy has failed the Latino community.”

Matt Viser can be reached at maviser@globe.com.
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