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Romney Faces Challenge in Speech to Latino Officials Today

As Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney prepares to deliver a major address today in Florida to theNational Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, he has been boxed into a tight corner by President Obama’s recent executive action allowing more than a million young immigrants to live in the country without fear of deportation.

While conservatives in Romney’s party such as Arizona Governor Jan Brewer have called Obama’s policy “backdoor amnesty” and many have been looking for Romney to condemn it, the Republican has been hesitant to go too far for fear of alienating Hispanic voters—a group for whom Romney is trailing Obama by huge numbers, putting his election chances in peril, particularly in battleground states with large Latino populations like Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado.

In fact, some analysts predict that Obama might even have a chance to win Arizona, the recent capital of radical conservative ideology, largely because of the influence of the state’s large Hispanic voting bloc.

Because Romney went so far t the right during the Republican primary, trying to seal his conservative bona fides by using harshly attacking Texas Gov. Rick Perry for allowing immigrant students to receive in-state tuition—how do you come back to Hispanic parents with hat in hand after attacking their kids?—he came out in support of Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration policies that allow law enforcement to stop anyone they suspect of being illegal immigrants and he told illegal immigrants they should “self-deport.” In other words, go back where you came from—a favorite rallying cry of racists since the nation’s founding.

“There’s really little wiggle room for him on this issue without giving the media and critics fodder for calling him wishy-washy and a flip-flopper,” Kyle Saunders, a political science professor at Colorado State University, told U.S. News & World Report. “My guess is that the speech by Romney will be lacking major changes from his previous policy stances and will instead engage symbolic immigration language.”

Obama will address the same elected officials group tomorrow.

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