With the GOP trailing badly among Latino voters, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney brought his campaign to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's 33rd annual national convention in downtown Los Angeles Monday, outlining his plans for jump-starting the American economy by supporting businesses.
"My plan is premised on the conviction that it is freedom that drives our economy--that free people, creating free enterprises, is what creates good jobs with good wages," Romney said.
"Government supports the job creators, but it cannot take their place."
Romney detailed five steps he would take as president to create 12 million jobs and raise salaries, including capitalizing on North American energy resources to achieve energy independence, bolstering the education system and slashing the national deficit.
"I will put the federal government on a track to a balanced budget by eliminating programs that are not absolutely essential and cutting federal subsidies for things like Amtrak, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities," he said. "I like some of these things but we just can't afford them. In fact, my test is this--is the program so critical that it is worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?"
Romney also touched on the issue of immigration, saying he would prioritize controlling the borders and making the system "more simple and transparent."
He said he opposes "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants, "because amnesty will make it harder, not easier to strengthen our legal immigration system."
Several hours before Romney's appearance, some local Hispanic elected officials lashed out at the candidate's stances on the economy and issues impacting the Latino population.
"Regardless of what Mr. Romney may choose to say in that room, the record is clear that the Romney-Ryan ticket is a clear pathway back to the failed policies that caused the worst financial crisis in generations," Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said. L.A. Councilman Ed Reyes added, "We know that Romney is on the wrong side of every issue that's important to the Hispanic community."
The chamber's convention "provides an important forum for Gov. Romney to address key economic issues that directly impact the country's 3 million Hispanic-owned businesses," said Nina Vaca, the chamber's chairman of the board.
Romney's attendance "demonstrates the important role that Hispanic business plays in our national political conversation," said Javier Palomarez, the chamber's president and CEO.
The chamber invites the Democratic and Republican nominees for each presidential campaign to address its national convention. President Barack Obama did address the four-day convention, which concluded Tuesday. He spoke at campaign events during that period in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio.
The chamber, the umbrella organization for more than 200 local Hispanic chambers in the United States and Puerto Rico, bills itself as actively promoting the economic growth and development of Latino entrepreneurs. Romney's appearance coincided with his campaign's release of two new television ads.
In a new 30-second commercial, Romney calls for trade policies that "crack down on cheaters like China" and for opening new markets, balancing the budget, cutting the deficit, reducing spending, and having "tax policies, regulations and healthcare policies that help small business."