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MIAMI - Sounding a note of inclusion that belied the socioeconomic tension coursing through the campaign in recent days, White House hopeful Mitt Romney told Hispanic voters Wednesday he would be president "for the 100 percent" of Americans.
The Republican nominee, who trails President Barack Obama two to one among Latinos in the United States, also pledged that if elected he would create a permanent solution to immigration but would not "round up" undocumented workers for mass deportation.
Romney made the economic argument that his policies in support of small businesses, education and training, and trade would serve Hispanic Americans better than Obama.
But it was his inclusive tone that highlighted key elements of his remarks.
"I care about the 100 percent," he told viewers of Spanish language network Univision. "People in America are going to have a better future if they elect me the next president."
Romney has struggled to stay on message after video secretly filmed at a Romney fundraiser in Florida was published this week which showed Romney disparaging 47 percent of Americans as government-dependent "victims" who backed the president.
Answering questions translated from Spanish, Romney said he was concerned about the increasing divisiveness in America, "and politics has driven us apart in some respects."
But he said that if elected he would use "every ounce of my energy to bring this country together."
Romney also discussed the country's "broken" immigration system, and while he refused to say whether he supported the controversial Arizona law that raises concerns about racial profiling, he said it was his goal to establish federal rules that would tighten laws on illegal immigration.
But he insisted: "We're not going to round up people around the country and deport them."
Romney made headlines early this year when he suggested that immigrants could "self-deport" if they did not find suitable work in the United States, a line that was heavily mocked by Democrats as well as Romney's rivals in the Republican primaries.
Hispanics comprise the largest minority in the country, and with Romney trailing slightly according to several polls, peeling Latino voters away from Obama is crucial, particularly in battleground states like Florida.
After taping his Univision remarks at the University of Miami, he attended his first public campaign event since Friday, a raucous rally at a fairgrounds.
"The choice is pretty stark. The president cares about the people of America, I care about the people of America," Romney said.
"But he doesn't know what it takes to help the people of America and I do. I'll get them working again," he said.
The unemployment rate for Hispanics has been above 10 percent for the duration of Obama's presidency, while the overall jobless rate now stands at 8.1 percent.
Hispanics start small businesses at a rate faster than the national average, but they also drop out of high school faster, Romney said.