President Obama ordered the government to stop deporting up to 800,000 undocumented students. And his executive order stalled, if not derailed, Senator Marco Rubio's plan for a compromise on U.S. immigration policy.
Critics say he is pandering for votes, and supporters say he's working around a do-nothing Congress.
Mitt Romney framed the order as a political move.
"I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forward by Senator Marco Rubio and by Democrat senators, but the president jumped in and said I'm going to take this action," Romney said.
When pressed on Face the Nation, Romney said he would press for a long-term solution, but would not say whether he would repeal this order in the interim.
The Obama campaign hopes the change in immigration policy will bolster the president's support among Hispanic voters. But in Florida, Obama's order may not win over as many voters as Democrats may think.
Much of our Hispanic population comes from Puerto Rico (where there are no immigration issues) and Cuba (where we have a different set of rules).
"It doesn't affect me, even though people think you're Latin, it will affect you—no, we all have our own issues," said Tampa resident Julius Rios.
In the end, the economy will decide Florida, and Florida will decide the election.
Obama's order has put Romney in a difficult position, forcing him to decide between possibly alienating Hispanic voters with tough talk or stoking anger within a conservative GOP base that was slow to warm to him during the primary process.
Romney's comments represent a further softening of his rhetoric on immigration since the GOP primary campaign ended.
For example, before the Iowa caucuses in January, when he faced the challenge of winning over the right-wing base of the GOP, he pledged to veto legislation backed by Democrats that would have created a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Instead of emphasizing the plight of illegal immigrants, Romney focused on the consequences illegal immigration has for U.S. jobs.
Obama's immigration announcement disrupted the start of Romney's five-day bus tour through small cities and towns in six important states.
The tour, now on its third day, scheduled three stops, including two in Ohio towns just outside the metropolitan areas of Cleveland and Columbus. Romney spent the first two days in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, where he assailed Obama and insisted that he's the candidate who will give middle-class Americans "a fair shot."
The Obama administration said the policy change announced Friday will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. Obama's move bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the Democrats' long-stalled legislation aimed at young illegal immigrants who went to college or served in the military.
Romney's CBS interview was his first in more than a year with a Sunday talk show on a network other than Fox.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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