Top Stories From GOP Debate In Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Mitt Romney said in Monday’s GOP debate that he favors what he calls “self-deportation” over policies that require the federal government to round up illegal immigrants and return them to their home countries.

“The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here,” Romney said.

Romney’s answer came after he was pressed on how he could be in favor of illegal immigrants returning to their home countries and applying for citizenship while also saying that he does not want the federal government to round people up and deport them.

Romney said that if employers enforce high standards for legal documentation of their employees, potential illegal immigrants will not be able to find work. He says this will allow the federal government to avoid having to round up people because they will leave on their own.

The federal government has previously experimented with a trial self-deportation program under the Bush Administration. It gave illegal immigrants up to 90 days to leave the country but was scrapped after two-and-half weeks in 2008 when it only produced eight volunteers. That left federal immigration officials vowing to intensify their efforts to track down illegal immigrants — a policy Romney has said he does not support.


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich want to revive Florida’s space coast.

But the Republican presidential contenders, eager to address a key local concern in Monday’s debate, say they don’t want the federal government to spend too much in the effort.

Romney says the space exploration should be a priority. He’s calling on NASA to partner with the military and private business interests and educational institutions to help pay for it.

Gingrich wants to offer the private sector special prizes. He says that such incentives, as opposed to a government spending, would help Americans go back to the moon, explore Mars, and develop extraterrestrial space exploration.

Gingrich says the prizes could create a romantic and exciting future for the space program.


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he would allow illegal immigrants to earn U.S. citizenship if they serve America in uniform.

Gingrich said during Monday’s GOP debate that if president he would veto a version of the proposed DREAM Act that would allow a path to citizenship for children who come to the United States with their undocumented parents if they complete college.

Gingrich says college graduation alone is not enough.

Gingrich says citizens of other countries already have the opportunity to earn U.S. citizenship by wearing a uniform. He says that children of undocumented immigrants too should have that option.

Rivals Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum say they would veto any version of the DREAM Act that gives citizenship for college graduates.


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — All four of the Republican presidential candidates say they’d like to see a Cuba free of Castro’s rule, though they differ on how they’d approach relations with Cuba.

Mitt Romney says it’s important for the U.S. to stand with people who want freedom, including Cubans.

Newt Gingrich says he would use covert operations and other means to bring down Castro.

Rick Santorum says it’s important for the U.S. to deal with Cuba but says he can’t foresee a relationship before Fidel Castro and his brother are out of power.

For his part, Ron Paul says he would like to see the Cuban people celebrate their own freedom without any U.S. involvement.

The issue of Cuba looms large in Florida, where there are many Cuban expatriates.


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney says Newt Gingrich’s freshly released contract with mortgage giant Freddie Mac shows that he was not merely a historian as he first suggested.

Romney is charging during Monday night’s GOP debate that the former House speaker made millions as an “influence peddler.”

Romney says that companies don’t spend that much money for history lessons and that Gingrich’s time since leaving office has been spent trading on his connections. Gingrich is adamant that he never lobbied.

Gingrich says that his consulting firms made that money, not him personally. He says his annual share was only about $35,000 and that the accusations he lobbied are defamatory and false.


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says his tax returns will show he pays all taxes that are legally required and, in his words, “not a dollar more.”

Romney is set to release his tax returns Tuesday morning. Asked during Monday night’s debate what the returns will show, Romney says they will outline his total income, total taxes and significant charitable contributions.

Romney won’t say what he thinks will be the most politically problematic part of the returns. He says the returns will show the returns are “entirely legal and fair.”

Gingrich says he wants to allow Americans to be able to choose a flat tax of 15 percent. That’s the tax rate Romney says he pays.


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Ron Paul says he has no intention of running for president as a third-party candidate, though he’s continuing to keep the door open a crack.

The Texas congressman is stopping short of saying no — because he says he’s not an absolutist. Paul notes that he once left Congress vowing not to return, only to run again.

But Paul says he doesn’t have any plans to run outside the GOP and that he might even be able to endorse rival Newt Gingrich if he’s the nominee. Paul says he is happy that Gingrich keeps hinting at attacking the Federal Reserve and jokes that if he could get Gingrich to listen to him on foreign policy, as Paul puts it, “we might just be able to talk business.”


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is slamming Newt Gingrich on a slew of issues, labeling him a failed leader.

The two rivals are part of Monday night’s presidential debate in Tampa, Fla.

Asked about the former House speaker’s electability, Romney says Gingrich led Republicans to historic losses and that Gingrich resigned in disgrace. Romney says members of Gingrich’s own team voted to reprimand him.

Romney is also highlighting Gingrich’s ties to mortgage lender Freddie Mac. He says Gingrich was hired directly by a lobbyist for Freddie Mac and says it’s a liability that would cost Republicans the general election.

In response, Gingrich says Romney is engaging in “disinformation” and he promises to dispute charges on his website. He says Romney is engaging in trivial politics.

All stories courtesy of The Associated Press