2012 ELECTION

Mitt Romney immigration question lingering

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Plouffe, the Obama adviser, sent by the White House to four of the talk shows, contended that Obama's action, which appeals to Hispanic voters who are critical to the president's re-election effort, was not "a political move."

PHOTOS: Mitt Romney campaigns in Chantilly

PHOTOS: Mitt Romney campaigns in Chantilly 18 Photos
PHOTOS: Mitt Romney campaigns in Chantilly

PHOTOS: George W. Bush, Barack Obama share stage during portrait unveiling

PHOTOS: George W. Bush, Barack Obama share stage during portrait unveiling 22 Photos
PHOTOS: George W. Bush, Barack Obama share stage during portrait unveiling

Still, Plouffe acknowledged that Obama's team expects an extraordinarily close election.

"It's going to come down to a few votes per precinct in a few states," Plouffe said in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press.

His comment underscores the reality that a small number of extra votes from Hispanics could make the difference in some key states like Nevada and Colorado.

Obama's order has put Romney in a difficult position, forcing him to decide between possibly alienating Hispanic voters with tough talk or stoking anger within a conservative GOP base that was slow to warm to him during the primary process.

Romney's comments represent a further softening of his rhetoric on immigration since the GOP primary campaign ended.

For example, before the Iowa caucuses in January, when he faced the challenge of winning over the right-wing base of the GOP, he pledged to veto legislation backed by Democrats that would have created a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Instead of emphasizing the plight of illegal immigrants, Romney focused on the consequences illegal immigration has for U.S. jobs. Obama's immigration announcement disrupted the start of Romney's five-day bus tour through small cities and towns in six important states.

The tour, now on its third day, scheduled three stops, including two in Ohio towns just outside the metropolitan areas of Cleveland and Columbus.

Romney spent the first two days in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, where he assailed Obama and insisted that he's the candidate who will give middle-class Americans "a fair shot."

The Obama administration said the policy change announced Friday will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation.

Obama's move bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the Democrats' long-stalled legislation aimed at young illegal immigrants who went to college or served in the military.

Romney's CBS interview was his first in more than a year with a Sunday talk show on a network other than Fox. It covered a range of topics, including health care, Romney's political future and the European financial crisis.

Romney said that the American banking sector "is able to weather the storm" in Europe. He said European countries are capable of dealing with their mess "if they choose to do so" and the U.S. doesn't want to get into the business of bailing out foreign banks.

Romney also does not favor another round of economic stimulus by the Federal Reserve, saying a previous one didn't have the desired effect. Romney also taped an interview with C-SPAN, aired Sunday, and emphasized he wouldn't implement an austerity plan in the U.S. if elected.

"What we would never do would be to dramatically slash spending by a trillion or $2 trillion as I came into the White House," he said. Instead, Romney said he will cut programs that would have otherwise grown more expensive over time.

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