(Corrects size of poll lead to five points from four in
* Romney will not overturn Obama immigration order
* Courting Hispanic voters in swing state
* First debate on Wednesday
By Sam Youngman
DENVER, Oct 2 U.S. Republican Mitt Romney
softened his position on immigration, the latest effort to
present a gentler side to voters as he takes on President Barack
Obama in a high-stakes debate.
Trailing in many polls, Romney is widely seen as needing to
score a win at the televised debate in Denver on Wednesday night
when the two men will square off over domestic issues like the
economy, immigration and healthcare.
The former Massachusetts governor is struggling to score
points with independent voters on immigration after suggesting
in the Republican primaries that some 12 million undocumented
workers should "self-deport" out of the United States.
In a new stance, Romney told The Denver Post in an interview
that appeared in Tuesday's newspaper that he would not overturn
an order by Obama in June that allows hundreds of thousands of
illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to
stay in the country.
"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. I'm not going
to take something that they've purchased," Romney said.
Romney had previously not said whether he would reverse
Obama's order, instead promising to put in place an immigration
reform of his own that would make that kind of action
His softer stance on immigration looked aimed at courting
the Hispanic vote which will likely be key in Colorado -- a
swing state -- in the Nov. 6 election. Nationally, Obama leads
Romney among Hispanic voters by as much as 40 percentage points.
It is part of a bid by Romney's campaign to present a more
empathetic face to voters after the former businessman was seen
on a secretly recorded video deriding almost half of the
electorate as dependent on federal aid.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Tuesday showed Obama's lead over the
Republican at five points, or 46-41 percent. Obama was ahead by
seven points last week and five points on Monday in the online
Last week, Romney told voters in battleground state Ohio
that his "heart aches" for the jobless and he has been bolder in
defending his 2006 healthcare reform in Massachusetts as
evidence that he cares for ordinary people.
He and Obama will hold the first of three debates on
Wednesday night with the Democrat appearing to have the momentum
in the campaign despite high unemployment and criticism of his
Middle East policy after last month's killing of the U.S.
ambassador to Libya.
"The Romney campaign still seems to be trying to find a Plan
B for going after the incumbent," said Dante Scala, a political
science professor at the University of New Hampshire.
Obama's campaign accused the Republican of confusing voters
about whether he supports allowing the children of illegal
immigrants to stay in the United States.
"There are a lot of questions that were raised about that
interview. Again, it's not showing a huge amount of courage to
give a confusing answer on an issue that's been around for more
than 100 days," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Nevada.
Romney's comments may risk alienating conservative voters
who applauded his earlier stand against illegal immigration.
"Problem is, the real conservative base will reel him back
in. Talk radio will be on him by (Tuesday) afternoon," said
Larry Berman, a professor of political science at Georgia State
Despite Romney's new course on immigration, vice
presidential running mate Paul Ryan has taken a harder tone. The
Wisconsin congressman has vowed that Romney would overturn the
kind of White House order that Obama used in offering work
permits to the children of illegal immigrants.
"Here's the great thing about a Mitt Romney presidency. For
an executive order that came from the last president, the new
president can undo it," Ryan told voters in Lima, Ohio on Sept.
24. "We're planning that," he said to applause.
Speaking in Iowa on Tuesday, Ryan was quizzed by a voter
about a Fox News interview last weekend when he said he could
not quickly explain to the interviewer which tax loopholes he
and Romney would scrap to allow them to cut tax rates.
"Why aren't you more specific? I heard you, was it Sunday
when you were on Fox? And you didn't answer his question about
what are your plans," the woman asked.
Ryan said: "When you get into a math conversation, it can
take a little while" and added, "There is plenty of fiscal room
to keep these important preferences for middle class taxpayers,
you know like charitable donations or buying a home or
(Additional reporting by Samuel P. Jacobs in Washington and
Jeff Mason in Nevada; Editing by Alistair Bell and Cynthia