Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney sounded more positive than ever about immigration in Tuesday's town-hall debate, a turn of events that is causing Democrats to loudly assert that Romney is an extremist on the issue.
"Mitt Romney is the most extreme presidential candidate on immigration in modern history," said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., in a conference call organized on Wednesday by President Obama's campaign.
"It's so sad for our community — and, quite honestly, for our entire nation — that the Republican nominee is so extreme," echoed Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.
Velazquez had to stretch to come up with examples of extremism from the debate. "He called undocumented immigrants "˜illegals,' " she said.
Both Becerra and Velazquez pointed to Romney's earlier statements that he would veto the Dream Act to legalize undocumented youth.
In actuality, Romney sounded more moderate in the debate than he has in the past. He backed away from his earlier statements on the Dream Act. He suggested for the first time on a national stage that undocumented children in the United States should "have a pathway to permanent residence," perhaps by joining the military. "Permanent residence" is the legal term for a green card, which leads to U.S. citizenship. Romney made a similar statement about the Dream Act to a reporter in Iowa last year, and he suggested legalization (but not citizenship) for military service in a speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in June.