Romney campaigns in Ariz., stays mum on immigration issue


by Stacey Delikat

Posted on April 20, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 7:37 PM

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was in Arizona on Friday appealing to Republican leaders and local voters at a series of events.

He kicked off the campaign tour at a Republican National Committee luncheon in Scottsdale, where he and Arizona Senator John McCain delivered back-to-back speeches blasting President Obama.

"I think he's a nice person, but I don't think we can afford him, I don't think the American people can afford to have Barack Obama as president," Romney said.

He acknowledged the economy is improving but said that was "in spite of Obama," not because of him.

McCain told the crowd he believed it would be a tight race between Romney and Obama.

"We'll be up late on election night," McCain said. "But I'm telling you, don't worry, the State of Arizona will be for Mitt Romney this November."

Romney next headed to Tempe for a round table discussion with local Hispanic leaders, during which a participant raised the issue of offering a solution to undocumented, hardworking students.

"If there were a way in which you could provide at least some signal for a glimmer of hope for some of these students who are obviously worried about this," said Manuel Pacheco, the former president of the University of Arizona. "It would be a shame to lose that particular talent that they bring."

Pacheco said while he supported the Dream Act, he believed it had become "toxic" because of political debate surrounding it, and asked Romney to consider another solution.

Romney, who had responded to each panelist who spoke before Pacheco, did not address the comments and just said "thank you."

"I did not expect him to respond," Pacheco said after the meeting, "I think he was there to listen, not provide answers."

Pacheco said that although Romney has said he would veto the Dream Act, he believes the candidate may soften his stance on the issue now that the primary is essentially over.

A small group of protesters in favor of the Dream Act demonstrated outside of Romney's afternoon rally in Tempe.

The Dream Act would offer a pathway to citizenship for certain students who complete several years of college or enlist in the United States Military.

Romney spoke briefly at the Tempe rally, where a crowd of several hundred supporters braved high temperatures to hear him reiterate his points on Obama and the economy.

He is reportedly staying in Arizona Friday night to attend a private fundraiser before returning to Boston on Saturday.