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First Thoughts: Obama's own immigration challenge

President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Washington, to call on Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1.
President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Washington, to call on Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1.Carolyn Kaster / AP

Despite his announcement a week ago, Obama has his own immigration challenge when he addresses NALEO at 1:40 pm ET… Can he run up the score with Latinos?... Recapping Romney’s own speech: It was strong (given the high degree of difficulty), but it side-stepped a big question… Romney’s newest TV ads… The Bain story isn’t going away… Romney’s donor-maintenance event in Utah begins… Charlie Cook: Don’t bet on another wave election for House races… And “Meet the Press” has Rubio and Richardson.

President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Washington, to call on Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1.Carolyn Kaster / AP

*** Obama's own immigration challenge: Yesterday, we wrote about Mitt Romney's immigration challenge in advance of his speech Thursday to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) in Orlando, FL. And today, with his own address to the group at 1:40 pm ET, we look at President Obama's challenge, too. For starters, despite last week's big immigration announcement, Obama wasn't able to achieve comprehensive immigration reform when Democrats held a majority in 2009-2010. Romney hammered home this very point yesterday: “For two years, this president had huge majorities in the House and Senate… But he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system." (Of course, the chief reason why was opposition from GOP senators, especially those who had supported reform in the past.) The other challenge for Obama is all the deportations that have taken place during his administration. As the Tampa Bay Times has written, “Obama has been tougher on deportations than any modern president — expelling nearly 1.5 million people so far. Many have been criminals, but the effort has also torn apart families and hurt some of the young people Obama now wants to help.”

*** And can he run up the score? But make no mistake: Obama is going to win the Latino vote, and he'll likely receive a much more enthusiastic response from the NALEO crowd than Romney did yesterday. But the questions for the president are: How much he can run up the score with this demographic group, and will they turn out? (Do Latinos go from representing 9% of all voters in '08 to 11% or 12% in '12? If so, that could be the difference between Obama winning and losing. And as was evident in the NBC/WSJ poll last month, their intensity is down.) And that's why it will be interesting to see how he responds to these shortcomings in his record. After his NALEO speech, Obama holds a campaign event in Tampa, FL at 4:15 pm ET.

*** Recapping Romney’s speech: As for Romney's own speech yesterday, it was pretty strong -- especially considering the high degree of difficulty (a polite but not enthusiastic crowd, issue terrain that's rocky for him). What's more, he put some meat on the bones of his immigration policy (for example, reallocate green cards to ensure that spouses and children of legal permanent residents get to stay with their families, grant green cards to those who get advanced degrees in the U.S). But where he wasn't strong was in answering what he would do to Obama's executive action to no longer deporting qualified young illegal immigrants. Bottom line: He really didn’t answer the question. "Some people have asked if I will let stand the president's executive action," he said. "The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president's temporary measure." But what would he do BEFORE the legislation was passed? And what would he do if Congress DOESN'T PASS IT? There's a reason why both Obama and Bush have been unable to get this through -- it's very hard, especially when "amnesty" has become a four-letter word on the right. As if on cue, the Obama campaign has a new web video noting all the ways Romney has side-stepped questions about Obama’s immigration action.

*** New Latino polls: Ahead of Obama’s speech, there’s a new Latino Decicisions poll of Latinos in the swing states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia that was partially conducted after Obama’s immigration announcement last week. “In Florida, the poll found Obama leading Romney by a margin of 53% to 37%, a slight increase from a 50% to 40% lead Obama held over Romney in a January 2012 Latino Decisions/Univision News poll in Florida. In the five states combined Obama lead Romney 63% to 27%, however in southwestern battlegrounds of Arizona, Colorado and Nevada Obama performed even better.  In Arizona Obama received 74% to 18% for Romney, in Colorado he was favored by 70% to 22% and in Nevada 69% to 20%.  In Virginia, Obama lead 59% to 28% over Romney among Latino registered voters.”

*** Romney’s newest TV ads: Meanwhile, the Romney campaign is up with TV ads targeted to individual battleground states (Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia) about what he’d do in his first 100 days as president. Here’s the one from Iowa: “President Romney’s first 100 days -- what will they mean for Iowa?” the narrator asks. “Day One, President Romney moves to repeal Obamacare and attacks the deficit, starting with $20 billion in savings. By Day 100, President Romney is working toward a balanced budget, making sure the government lives within its means.” But these ads also raise some questions: How will he repeal the health-care law, if the Supreme Court doesn’t already do it for him? How will he work toward balancing the budget, especially with the tax cuts he wants to pursue (and the offsets he hasn’t yet identified)?

*** The Bain story isn’t going away: A day after the Obama campaign seized on a Bloomberg article noting that Romney officials had told Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to stop touting positive economic news in his state, Chicago is pouncing on a new story: Bain Capital, under Romney’s direction, invested in firms that outsourced jobs to China and India. The Washington Post: “During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.” More: “Bain played several roles in helping these outsourcing companies, such as investing venture capital so they could grow and providing management and strategic business advice as they navigated this rapidly developing field.” Folks, this story is a reminder that the Bain story isn’t going away…

*** My Own Private Utah: NBC’s Garrett Haake reports on Romney’s big donor-maintenance weekend in Utah: “Romney's top aides and donors have begun to trickle in to the posh Deer Valley resort area, spreading out across several hotels.  Pollster Neil Newhouse, Romney consiglieres Bob White and former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey and advisers Katie Gage, Ron Kaufman and Eric Fehrnstrom are all here. Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick arrived last night. On the donor/finance side -- Karl Rove is here, and Bill Bain has been spotted at one of the hotels housing the donor class.” As Haake mentioned yesterday, potential Romney VPs Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, Rob Portman, and Bob McDonnell will also be in attendance.

*** Cook: Don’t bet on another wave election for the House: Turning to the outlook for this year’s House races, National Journal’s Charlie Cook doesn’t see a fourth-consecutive wave election -- at least so far. “[A] little more than four months out from the election, the tides seem about as neutral as they can be. Both parties have surprisingly comparable levels of exposure, largely because of redistricting. The relatively calm surface of this year’s waters belies a lot of offsetting tumult and change underneath. But for House Republicans, who hold a 25-seat majority, a status quo election producing minimal net change would be good news.” Cook concludes in his column, “Republicans would need to mess up pretty badly to lose their House majority in the near future.”

*** “Meet” has Rubio, Richardson: On “Meet the Press” this Sunday, NBC’s David Gregory interviews Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D).

Countdown to GOP convention: 66 days
Countdown to Dem convention: 73 days
Countdown to Election Day: 137 days

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