On the eve of his first debate with President Obama, Mitt Romney indicated that he was considering a uniform deduction for most tax payers – $17,000 was the figure mentioned – as a way to pay for his proposed reform, which includes $5 trillion in across-the-board cuts.
Romney also appeared to shift slightly on the issue of illegal immigration, saying he would honor two year visas issued by President Obama this summer for students who arrived here illegally as children.
Tune in to ABCNews.com on Wednesday for livestreaming coverage of the first 2012 Presidential Debate from Denver, Colo. Coverage kicks off with ABC News' live preview show at noon, and full debate coverage begins at 8 p.m.
The Republican made cautious forays into the two hot-button issues as he arrived in Denver for Wednesday night's face-off with Obama. He has been pressed by opponents, as well as many inside his own party, to provide more details about his economic plan.
Romney has argued he can still cut the deficit, even while slashing tax rates by 20 percent, if certain loopholes are closed. A simpler code, he contends, with fewer available deductions, would mean more people paying and a larger revenue base – more than enough to offset the cost of the plan.
But when confronted and asked for specifics – which loopholes, in particular – both Romney and Ryan have demurred, telling interviewers that they'd negotiate those details with Congress after the election.
Romney hinted Monday night, with a bit more detail, at how he'd manage the tax code.
"As an option you could say everybody's going to get up to a $17,000 deduction; and you could use your charitable deduction, your home mortgage deduction, or others – your healthcare deduction. And you can fill that bucket, if you will, that $17,000 bucket that way," he said during a visit with Denver's FOX31. "And higher income people might have a lower number."
The Obama campaign was unimpressed. "Romney still refuses to be straight with the American people. While he promised to pay for his $5 trillion tax cut plan that's skewed toward millionaires and billionaires by closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans, independent analysts have shown that his plan can only be paid for by eliminating deductions that middle class families rely on, like the mortgage interest deduction," spokeswoman Lis Smith said.
Romney has also made an appeal to Latino voters, a significant segment of the Colorado electorate, by telling The Denver Post that he would not revoke the temporary work permits for young illegal immigrants that President Obama signed off on with an executive order during the summer.
"The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid," Romney said. "I'm not going to take something that they've purchased."
It was a subtle pivot by Romney, who has openly opposed the decision and derided Obama for bypassing Congress and enacting the plan with a swipe of his pen. Romney has also promised to veto the DREAM Act, a piece of draft legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for young people who entered the country illegally with their parents, provided they met certain educational requirements or joined the military.
The apparent change of heart arrives in concert with a grander appeal to Latino voters. Kantar Media reports that the Romney campaign ran more Spanish language ads in the first three weeks of September – 2,855 – than it did from mid-April, when the primary race effectively ended, through the end of August.
While Romney was trying to fill the pre-debate vacuum with some new policy revelations, the Obama campaign spun some noise into the cycle with a cutting new ad that mocks Romney's past promises to be tougher on China.
"Since when?" is the name of the spot and the question is tied to accusations Romney and his Bain Capital partners bought a Chinese factory even after observing the dire conditions inside.
The company "maximized profits by paying its workers next to nothing under sweatshop conditions in China," the ad says. Romney has not denied making the purchase.
"This is another 'overboard' ad from a president who is trying to distract from his failure to stand up to China," Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg shot back. "Four years ago, then candidate Barack Obama promised to take China to the mat, but refused to label China a currency manipulator because he didn't want them to be embarrassed."
The ad is running in six battleground states, including Colorado and Nevada, where Obama and Romney are doing their final round of debate drills ahead Wednesday night's one-on-one.
Elsewhere on the trail, Michelle Obama is in Ohio, where early voting began this morning. The Buckeye State polls are scheduled to remain open from now until Election Day, Nov. 6. A new law would have cut off early access to the polls on the Friday before, but a federal judge declared it unconstitutional.