Romney offers new ideas on taxes, immigration

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney is offering new ideas on the controversial issues of taxes

and immigration, sparking a fresh flashpoint with President Barack Obama before their inaugural debate Wednesday.

In interviews, the GOP nominee suggested an

option of limiting deductions to pay for his across-the-board income tax

cut and

revealed that he would honor temporary permission the Obama

administration granted to young illegal immigrants to allow them

to stay in the country.

The candidates stepped off the campaign

trail Tuesday for debate practice and left their running mates to rally

voters in

swing states. The Romney campaign pounced after Vice President Joe

Biden told a North Carolina audience that the middle class

has "been buried the last four years."

Romney posted on Twitter that he agrees with

Biden. "The middle class has been buried the last 4 years, which is why

we need

a change in November." The campaign also scheduled a conference

call with former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu to criticize

Biden's comments.

Biden told about 1,000 people in Charlotte:

"This is deadly earnest. How they can justify, how can they justify

raising taxes

on a middle class that has been buried the last four years? How in

Lord's name can they justify raising their taxes with these

tax cuts?"

Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said Romney's campaign was making "another desperate and out-of-context attack."

"As the vice president has been saying all

year and again in his remarks today, the middle class was punished by

the failed

Bush policies that crashed our economy — and a vote for Mitt

Romney and Paul Ryan is a return to those failed policies," Smith


Biden's staff responded to the Romney

criticism, also via Twitter, saying Biden "made clear in his remarks

today that Romney-Ryan

would take us back to the failed Bush policies that crashed our


The dispute followed the Obama campaign's criticism of Romney's remarks on immigration in an interview published Tuesday in

the Denver Post.

"The people who have received the special

visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa,

should expect

that the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take

something that they've purchased," Romney said. "Before those

visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan

that I've proposed."

Obama announced in June that he would prevent deportation for some children brought to the United States by illegal immigrant

parents. Applicants must not have a serious criminal record and must meet other requirements, such as graduating from high

school or serving in the U.S. military.

The program closely tracked with the DREAM

Act, a bill that failed to pass Congress that would have provided a path

to legal

status for many young illegal immigrants. Romney said during the

Republican presidential primary campaign that he would veto

DREAM Act legislation.

Obama campaign spokesman Gabriela Domenzain said Romney's statement to the Denver Post "raises more questions than it answers,"

including whether he would repeal Obama's policy or deport those who have received a deferment after two years.

"We know he called the DREAM Act a 'handout' and that he promised to veto it," Domenzain said. "Nothing he has said since

contradicts this and we should continue to take him at his word."

The Denver Post interview comes as Romney and Obama are fighting a heated battle for Colorado, whose significant Hispanic

population could determine which candidate receives the state's nine electoral votes.

Throughout the Republican primary, Romney

took an aggressive tack on immigration, saying in debates that he

approved of "self-deportation,"

where undocumented workers would choose to leave the country on

their own because they were unable to find work. He assailed

rival Rick Perry, the Texas governor, for allowing illegal

immigrants to attend Texas state colleges and universities at reduced,

in-state tuition rates. Romney always has said he supports a path

to citizenship for illegal immigrants who serve in the military.

After Romney secured the nomination, he indicated he would review potential legislation from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio that

would allow some young illegal immigrants a way to stay in the country.

In another interview Monday with Denver

television station KDVR, Romney laid out a possible scenario for paying

for proposal

to cut all income tax rates by 20 percent. He's previously said

the cuts would be funded by closing loopholes and deductions,

but that the specifics would have to be worked out with Congress.

"As an option you could say everybody's

going to get up to a $17,000 deduction; and you could use your

charitable deduction,

your home mortgage deduction, or others — your health care

deduction, and you can fill that bucket, if you will, that $17,000

bucket that way," Romney said. "And higher income people might

have a lower number."

Obama spent Tuesday preparing for Wednesday's debate at a resort in Henderson, Nev., while Romney was spending most of the

day in practice with plans to tour the debate stage set up on the University of Denver campus.