Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared on the Spanish-language Univision network Wednesday night in a bid to convince Latino voters to unseat President Barack Obama in November.
During his 35-minute appearance before a largely supportive audience at the University of Miami, Romney emphasized his accomplishments as Governor of Massachusetts and said he would do a better job than Obama of finding a “permanent solution” to undocumented immigration.
“We’re not going to round up people around country and deport them, we’re not going to round up 12 million people,” Romney said when asked whether he would deport undocumented immigrants or repeal Obama’s policy of deferred action. He later said he would “staple a green card” to the diploma of immigrants who serve in the U.S. military or graduate with advanced degrees.
Univision partnered with Facebook and the University of Miami for Wednesday and Thursday’s two-day “Meet the Candidates” series, providing an alternative, bilingual forum for both presidential candidates to appear before a primarily Latino audience in the run up to the elections. According to an ImpreMedia/Latino Decision poll released Monday, Latino voters favor Obama over Romney by a margin of 68 to 26 percent.
Univision launched “Meet the Candidates” last month, after the Commission on Presidential Debates released an exclusively Anglo-American lineup of debate moderators and denied Univision’s request to schedule an additional debate with a Latino moderator focusing on issues of importance to Latinos.
“It’s so interesting, because the Commission on Presidential Debates seems to believe that it is OK to have an African-American president, but it is not OK to have a moderator from a minority group,” said Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who moderated Wednesday’s forum alongside Maria Elena Salinas.
More controversy erupted when Univision and the University of Miami announced that the distribution of tickets to “Meet the Candidates” would be controlled by campus Republicans and Democrats, rather than distributed randomly by student lottery. As a result, Wednesday’s audience was audibly supportive of Romney and could be heard jeering a number of the interviewers’ questions, particularly when Romney was pressed to provide more details about his stance on immigration.
An Obama-friendly audience is expected to attend Thursday’s forum for the president, which will be live-streamed on Univision’s website and Facebook page in both English and Spanish. Viewers were encouraged to submit questions to the candidates via Facebook.