Interview: Jeb Bush Talks Romney, Obama, and Immigration

PHOTO: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush during the republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a campaign event at the University of Miami, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in Coral Gables, Fla.

As the Romney campaign makes its closing pitch to voters, it wants them to look past the man who ran in the GOP primary and at the candidate who is running now.

Take the issue of immigration, often a litmus test for any candidate wishing to win the trust of Latino voters. Romney struck a hardline position during the primary, voicing support for a "self-deportation" plan while dismissing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

But that's not the message Team Romney emphasizes now. Romney and his supporters now say he would treat immigration in a bipartisan manner.

"Actually, I think he has been cautious to not lay out plans with great specificity, knowing that there is a real range of views on what comprehensive immigration reform really is," Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in an interview with ABC/Univision Saturday, while on a bus tour in his home state to get out the vote.

In reality, Romney's positions and the way he has spoken about the issue damaged his standing with Latino voters, and polls show that President Barack Obama is on track to win the largest share of the community's vote in 16 years. That advantage could give Obama an edge in a handful of battleground states in what has become a very close election.

But Bush, who has been one of Romney's foremost critics on his handling of immigration and his efforts to diversify his base of support to include Latinos and Asian-Americans, has a different take. He now says that Romney has improved dramatically since the Republican National Convention in August and is confident that Romney can whittle away at Obama's Latino support, especially in Florida where traditionally-Republican Cuban-American voters have given him a boost.

Whether that's the case will bear itself out on Election Day. While on his Florida bus tour, Bush spoke to Jordan Fabian about a second Obama term, Romney's plans for the White House, and if he foresees a role for himself in a Romney administration.

1. You've been on a bus tour of Florida. Are you confident that Romney is going to win the state and can he win the election without winning Florida?

I guess you could draw an electoral map where you could win the election without winning Florida. But thankfully in this particular case, I'm really confident that Gov. Romney is going to win Florida and that makes it more probable that he's going to be elected president. He'll have to win a few other states, but with 29 electoral votes it's obviously the biggest swing state.

2. It is closer in Florida, but Latino voters around the country overwhelmingly favor President Obama over Romney. What would you say to the Latino community about the impact of a second Obama term on the country?

A series of broken promises as it relates to immigration yielded nothing, basically paralysis. I think the plan all along was to use immigration as a political issue. In a second term, I just don't see immigration being a high priority for this president. So I think we will have continued stagnation in that regard.

But more important is the economic policies of the president are not yielding the robust growth that helps Hispanic communities around the country. If you look at unemployment numbers, Hispanics have been really hard hit. The tepid recovery [means] the gap has actually gotten bigger between Latinos and non-Hispanic whites. More of the same, I guess, that's what I would predict. And that's not good.

I don't necessarily think President Obama is going to win though.

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