Romney gathers Miami’s 3 heavy weight endorsements

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney picked up the endorsement of three heavyweight Cuban Americans on Monday — Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, and former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario’s older brother.

All three are prominent in Miami-Dade Republican politics and their backing can help Romney shore up his credentials on the immigration issue at a time when rivals Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich are bogged down defending their positions on illegal immigration.

Romney has taken an increasingly hard line on illegal immigration, accusing Gingrich of advocating amnesty with his plan to consider length of residency, community ties and clean criminal records in granting legal status to some immigrants who would otherwise face deportation.

Ros-Lehtinen is an eleven-term House member from Florida’s 18th Congressional District, which includes most of the city of Miami and is one of the three Hispanic majority districts in Miami-Dade County. Diaz-Balart represents the 21st District, which includes Hialeah and a large swath of Miami-Dade. It is 76 percent Hispanic, the highest rate of any Florida district. Before the 2010 election, the seat was held by Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who served nine terms before retiring and endorsing his brother to succeed him.

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