Rubio: Immigration Not Top Issue for Hispanics

BY Meena Ganesan  June 21, 2012 at 2:02 PM EDT

Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said at a Washington breakfast Thursday that he wants to see the Republican Party talk about being pro-legal immigration, and brushed off any speculation of a possible vice presidential vet.

While “vastly outrageous things” have been said on the issue, Rubio said the party is not anti-immigration. His message: immigration is good for America.

The Cuban American discussed the GOP’s efforts to convince Hispanic voters that Mitt Romney is the better choice on the economy.

He also said immigration policy affects, and is directly linked to, the agricultural, high-tech and service economies.

“I think a misconception is that Hispanics wake up in the morning and think about immigration,” Rubio told reporters at an event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

“For Hispanics, immigration is not a statistical debate,” Rubio said. “For them, this issue is an issue.”

Rubio is out with a new autobiography titled “An American Son,” in which he characterizes the way he grew up — his mother was a maid, his father a bartender — and how he “made that symbolic journey from the bar to the podium.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being a maid or a bartender, but my parents wanted something better for me,” Rubio said of his Cuban immigrant parents.

I think a misconception is that Hispanics wake up in the morning and think about immigration

Returning to campaign rhetoric while avoiding any questions related to the so-called “veepstakes,” Rubio said Romney had laid out his position clearly on the issue. His remarks came before Romney addressed the National Association of Latino Elected Officials Thursday afternoon, and drove home the presumptive GOP nominee’s talking points.

“Gov. Romney supports legal immigration and understands it is a problem in our country that needs to be fixed,” Rubio said, noting that the nominee’s stance would continue to develop throughout the campaign. “This is not an issue that can be easily solved on the campaign trail.”

Throughout the breakfast, one point was clear: Rubio was upset by Mr. Obama’s approach to easing deportation for some undocumented immigrants, not his policy. “They’re not interested in a bipartisan solution, they’re interested in a talking point,” Rubio said.

For more election cycle coverage, visit NewsHour’s Politics Page.

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