With GOP nomination assured, Mitt Romney shifts to the center: Page 2 of 2

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT

Romney also made an appeal to women voters last month by voicing his support for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act despite concerns some Republican senators had with Senate legislation.

“Gov. Romney supports the Violence Against Women Act and hopes it can be reauthorized without turning it into a political football,” a spokeswoman for Romney’s campaign said at the time.

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While the statement stopped short of endorsing the controversial Senate bill, it undercut the position of Senate Republicans who opposed it. Despite concerns over the bill’s constitutionality, GOP senators decided not to filibuster the bill in hope the provisions could be removed later in Senate-House negotiations.

Congressional Democrats have certainly noticed Romney’s move to the center.

“The Etch A Sketch is coming sooner than I thought. He’s for education, now he’s for [the] Violence Against Women [Act]. Great,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in remarks dripping with sarcasm.

IMMIGRATION REFORM

Romney has made a renewed bid for Hispanic voters, as well. He has shelved the tough talking points of the primary when he called for a policy of “self-deportation” to address millions of illegal immigrants living in the country.  

“The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide that they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here,” Romney said at a Florida debate.

“I don’t think they had to, but they took [former Rep.] Tom Tancredo’s [R-Colo.] position on immigration [in the primary],” said Weaver. “You can’t get to 270 electoral votes unless he does better among Hispanics.”

In Iowa, Romney slammed Newt Gingrich’s call for a humane immigration policy to avert the deportation of people who have put down deep roots in the country. Romney said Gingrich had “offered a new doorway to amnesty.”

Romney initially said he would veto a scaled-back immigration reform bill titled the DREAM Act. He later walked that comment back.

Romney’s rhetoric had grown so sharp in the primary that Robert Gittelson, co-founder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, wrote an open letter to Romney in The Christian Post website in late January asking the candidate to tone it down.

Gittelson said Romney has done so since entering the general-election phase of his campaign.

“I don’t know if that letter made a difference. Certainly since he has become the presumptive nominee he has spoken more moderately on the issue of immigration,” said Gittelson.

Last month, while campaigning with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Romney signaled he may be open to granting legal status to illegal immigrants who came to the country at a young age. Rubio is crafting an alternative to the DREAM Act, which provides a pathway to citizenship to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children if they meet certain requirements.

Rubio’s bill would not give these immigrants a special pathway to citizenship, but it would resemble the Democratic bill in other ways.

“He and I have spoken about his thinking on his version of a different act than the DREAM Act that’s been proposed in the Senate,” Romney said while campaigning with Rubio. 

“I’m taking a look at his proposal,” he added. “It has many features to commend it. But it’s something that we’re studying.”

Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, an anti-illegal immigration advocacy group that defeated the DREAM Act in past years, said Rubio’s proposal would amount to amnesty.

“Everything we’re reading about says the bill would give [illegal immigrants] a permanent presence and a permanent access to jobs,” Beck said. “It’s absolutely an amnesty. Not a citizenship amnesty but an amnesty.”

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