TEMPE, Ariz. -- A former president of the University of Arizona pleaded with Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Friday to support some version of the Dream Act to give "a glimmer of hope" to college students who are not in the United States legally.
"They're bright, they can help carry this country forward," Manuel Pacheco told Romney during a roundtable discussion with Latino business leaders in Tempe. "I think it would be a shame to lose that particular talent that they bring."
Romney listened politely, nodding, as Pacheco pushed him to effectively change his strong opposition to the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented college students.
When Pacheco was done speaking, Romney said: "Thank you! Appreciate that! Thank you." He then turned to the next participant and did not discuss the matter further.
Eight people took part in the discussion around a large table at the Arizona Historical Society Museum. Most of the talk hinged on ways to improve the business climate, and Romney participated more enthusiastically in those discussions, actively asking detailed questions of most speakers.
At times he appeared to revert to his role as chief executive of Bain Capital, as when he demanded of a business owner complaining about his taxes, "Are you an LLC or a Sub-S?" (He was referring to different legal categories of limited liability companies.)
Pacheco was among two participants who brought up the Dream Act. He said later that he had been encouraged by reports in recent days that Sen. Marco Rubio had called for consideration of a modified version of the legislation.
Rubio, a Florida Republican of Cuban heritage, is a rising star in the Republican Party and is considered to be on Romney's short list of vice presidential candidates.