Live Blogging Mitt Romney's Address to Latino Leaders on the Economy

I’m watching Mitt Romney’s address to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials live on CSPAN right now. He has really come out swinging hard at President Obama…

UPDATE (9:31am PT) – Romney’s introductory remarks were brief. He said what unites us as Americans is more important than our differences, and that what unites us is our love for this country. He then wasted no time in discussing what divides us (partisan bickering), and launching into a robust criticism of President Obama’s administration, focusing almost entirely on his economic record. Romney said: “I believe he’s taking your vote for granted.”

UPDATE (9:36am PT) – Wow. I’m actually surprised by how quickly Romney jumped into the immigration issue. Reports were indicating that he might only gloss it over. He criticized the President for waiting until just months before his reelection bid before doing anything about immigration and then introducing a temporary fix. Romney says he won’t advocate temporary, “stop gap” measures.

Romney says he will: 1) Prioritize the strengthening of legal immigration, 2) Find a resolute way to deal with illegal immigration. He mentions supporting a “high tech fence” to secure the border with Mexico, taking measures to prevent illegal border crossings, and reform immigration laws to allow anyone to obtain a visa who acquires an advanced degree in America and stand for a path to legal citizenship for anyone who serves in the military.

Romney also wants what sounds like a federal, computerized, verification system for employers to check the citizenship / immigration status of job seekers…

UPDATE (9:39am PT) – Mitt Romney: “This election isn’t about being a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent.” He goes on to say that it’s about building a better economy, finishing on message by dangling the hope of a recovery.

Something bothers me about that quotation above. I might respond to Gov. Romney that he’s close, but then makes his own statement confusing and inaccurate by throwing in Independents with the rest of them at the end. Independents are the ones who are saying that this election isn’t about being a Republican or a Democrat. They’re independent because they already think issues like those that effect the economy matter more than red, white, and blue lapel pins of donkeys and elephants.

“Independent” is not a political affiliation. It’s a lack of one. It’s disingenuous to throw us in with the two parties like we’re part of the problem of politics and partisanship (especially coming from Romney, who arguably epitomizes those problems worse than any presidential candidate in recent American history). Independents are trying to solve those problems. Independents are trying to replace politics with policy and partisanship with principle. That’s why we’re independent.

UPDATE (10:20am PT) – Reflecting some more on Romney’s immigration remarks, he hardly charts a substantively different course with his speech. It’s pretty conventional and uninspiring. Build a high tech border fence? I didn’t know the Republicans were nominating Tom Tancredo. Create compliance costs for employers and make it harder for employees to find work by way of this electronic verification system? Bad for business, bad for immigrants trying to find work– I guess I should back off on criticizing Romney for pandering to voters because it’s like he’s trying to upset all of them in one paragraph.

Then there’s this paternalistic path to visas and citizenship that grants these to immigrants IF they pursue goals in line with Mitt Romney‘s values like: 1) going into debt to get a worthless higher education degree so that they can be a lot smarter than the person whose table they’re waiting after they get out of school and try to find work in this economy; or 2) signing up for military service, which raises other questions like: can a non-citizen even serve in the military; and if the country doesn’t even want to make them a citizen yet, should it make them active duty military members– seems like that’s the bigger responsibility and level of trust; and is America exploiting immigrants by offering them something they want if they’re willing to put their lives and limbs in physical danger serving in the military; and is this unfair to immigrants who for some health or other reasons are unqualified to serve in the military?

What if someone’s values are different than Romney’s, or Obama’s, or Marco Rubio’s? What if an immigrant doesn’t want an MBA or a tour of military service? What if the immigrant wants to come to America and work in the US patent office while doing mathematics and physics like Albert Einstein? What if an immigrant wants to play a professional sport? What if an immigrant wants to become a famous painter? Start a restaurant chain or a chain of other small service businesses that provide value and create jobs? What if they just want to work with their hands making an honest living outside of a classroom or a war zone so they can provide for their families, save money, and create a better life for their children? Are those choices any less honorable or worthy than higher education or military service? Who are Romney or Obama to say?

UPDATE (10:26am PT) – On Jane’s post about Romney’s address today, one commentator writes: “That’s right, exclude the guy with the best record and a 2 term governor of the of the most Latino state: http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/record.” Great point. Libertarian Party presidential candidate, Gary Johnson is a former two-term Republican governor of a 2-1 Democratic border state with “Mexico” in its name (New Mexico). There’s a chance he just might have something interesting to add to a conversation between a Senator from Illinois and a Governor from Massachusetts. Romney spoke to the group of Latino leaders today. Obama will be speaking to them tomorrow. Haven’t heard anything about Johnson addressing them. Why not?