Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that his campaign is aimed at 100 percent of the U.S. population and added that he was convinced of his ability to redirect the economy to improve the quality of life for all.
"My campaign is about the 100 percent of America," he said here at a "Meet the Candidate" forum organized by Univision, the country's leading Spanish-language network.
"I know I'm not going to get 100 percent of the vote, And my campaign will focus on those people we think we can bring in to support me," the former Massachusetts governor said when asked about his recently-leaked comments at fund-raising event where he labeled 47 percent of the electorate as dependent on government.
"But this is a campaign about helping people who need help, and right now the people who are poor in this country need help getting out of poverty, the people in the middle class need help because their incomes have gone down every year for the last four years," Romney continued.
"I have a record. I have demonstrated my capacity to help the 100 percent," he said, still trying to play down his dismissal of the 47 percent as voters who will choose President Barack Obama "no matter what."
"These are people who pay no income tax," Romney said at the fundraiser, referring to the 47-percent group, which includes retirees, students and working people whose adjusted gross income is too low to be subject to federal income tax, though they do pay payroll levies.
At that same fund-raising dinner he said that if his late father, auto executive and one-time Michigan Gov. George Romney - the son of U.S. expatriates then living in Mexico - had "been born of Mexican parents, I'd have a better shot of winning this."
"I think for political purposes that might have helped me here at the University of Miami today," Mitt Romney said Wednesday night in response to a question about the earlier remark.
On Friday, President Obama will participate in a similar interview, and it will be the first time in history in an election campaign for both main U.S. candidates to provide back-to-back interviews directed specifically at the Hispanic audience.
The issues dealt with during the interview included timely subjects of interest for Latinos including the temporary suspension of deportations decreed by Obama for young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
Romney elected not to state clearly whether or not he would end the Deferred Action program, but he did say he would not "round up people and deport them."
"We're not going to round up 12 million people, and that includes the kids," he said.
His position, he said, is to reform the immigration system, which he called "a political football" that both parties have been tossing back and forth.
The GOP candidate said that he approved of legal immigration because this country lives and breathes from the vitality of immigration.
On the subject of jobs, and after noting that Hispanics have gone for 56 months with an unemployment rate above 10 percent, he said he would create employment in the energy sector and in foreign trade, as well as improve training "for the jobs of tomorrow."
He also said he would empower small businesses, where Hispanics are particularly active. EFE