DORAL, FL -- Newt Gingrich combined attacks on Mitt Romney's wealth and his stance on immigration in a forum less than a week before the Latino-heavy Florida GOP primary.
Gingrich attacked the former Massachusetts governor for being out-of-touch with the experience of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who have laid down roots in America.
"I think you have to live in worlds of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic $20 million a year income with no work to have some fantasy this far from reality," Gingrich said at a forum organized by the Spanish-language network Univision. "I talk very specifically about people who have been here for a long time ...for Romney to believe that somebody's grandmother is going to be so cut off she is going to self deport? This verges -- this is an Obama level fantasy."
Gingrich defended his immigration policy while criticizing his chief rival’s policy for lacking “humanity” and being a “fantasy.”
“He certainly shows no concern for the humanity of the people who are already here,” Gingrich told the crowd about Romney, who floated the idea of self-deportation in a Republican debate on Monday night, a concept somewhat nebulous in its execution.
The former House speaker, who began his interview with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, believes that citizen panels should decide if illegal immigrants who have been in the United States for 20-25 years and participate in the community should be allowed to remain in the country legally. Gingrich wants to build a new worker permit program, as well.
The speaker continued to stump in one of the most heavily Hispanic parts of Florida today giving a speech on Latin American Policy at Florida International University.
Gingrich made his case for why he's best suited to win over Latinos in the general election. He said he aims to win 50 percent of Latinos nationally and outlined policy positions that might contribute to him making inroads in that community
But Gingrich trails Romney among Latinos voting in next Tuesday’s primary according to a new poll, and performs more poorly than Romney against Obama among Latinos nationally.
A new poll conducted by Latino Decisions for Univision News and ABC News finds that Romney holds a 15 percent lead over Gingrich in the Hispanic vote in Florida, 35 to 20 percent.
Both presidential candidates are courting voters in the Miami area today.
Ramos asked Gingrich to clarify comments he made in 2007 where it seemed he implied that Spanish was the language of the ghetto.
"It wasn't about Spanish, I said it about all languages," Gingrich said inside the Univision studios.
"I am for English as a common unifying language…Most parents, whatever their linguistic background, want their children to be able to function in English because they know they will have a better job and a better future,” he said.
The speaker, whose oldest daughter lives in Miami-Dade county, even got a little chocked up at his speech at FIU while talking about his granddaughter learning to play the violin by a Cuban-American violinist -- Luis Haza -- who escaped from Fidel Castro’s rule after his father was executed.
“If you talk to Luis, you will understand the passion that he is left here to deal with over the years and why my determination to free Cuba and to help the people of Cuba be free is because he is a deep, deep advocate for human freedom and decency,” Gingrich said about Haza.