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“The Cubans do not have the problem of immigration, but we are sympathetic to others in this country who have been here for years and who want some kind of resolution of the issue. But having said that, this is a country of law; you cannot come here without anyone knowing who you are and stay here because you want to and not be identified,” Remedios Diaz-Oliver, of the US-Cuba Democracy PAC, told The Times.

She said the Dream Act is the one issue where she disagrees with Mr. Romney — as do Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, former Sen. Mel Martinez and former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez — but all of them back Mr. Romney.

“Neither Gingrich, Santorum or anybody is with the Dream Act. If the Dream Act will be a factor, let them vote for Obama, who will promise but not do anything,” Ms. Diaz said.

Still, any talk of legalization is a touchy issue among broader Republican primary voters. In Iowa and South Carolina, nearly every town-hall event featured at least one person asking the candidates how they would gain control of the U.S.-Mexico border and how they would handle the illegal immigrants already here.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a onetime front-runner in the campaign, saw his fortunes collapse when fellow candidates attacked him for signing a bill giving illegal-immigrant college students in-state tuition rates in Texas.

Mr. Perry has since endorsed Mr. Gingrich.

In Florida on Wednesday, Mr. Gingrich ridiculed Mr. Romney’s call for “self-deportation,” saying the approach lacks “humanity” and arguing that it is unrealistic for him to think stronger enforcement of the nation’s laws will persuade illegal immigrants to leave the nation voluntarily.

“For Romney to believe that somebody’s grandmother is going to be so cut off she is going to self-deport — this is an Obama-level fantasy,” he said.

Mr. Romney countered later in the day by saying Mr. Gingrich was trying to pander to Hispanic voters and hide the fact he, himself, used to argue that self-deportation was the proper solution to illegal immigration.

The interviews coincided with the release of a new Univision, ABC News and Latino Decisions poll that showed Mr. Obama holds significant leads over his potential GOP rivals among Florida Hispanics, while Mr. Romney leads his Republican competitors among the same voters in the nomination race in Florida.

Asked about his poor showing in the poll, Mr. Gingrich said that at this stage in the 1980 presidential campaign Jimmy Carter was beating Ronald Reagan by 30 percentage points and that by the time the race moves into the fall, Hispanic voters will move in his direction once they realize they like his values, job creation record and his stance on Cuba.

“I have a hunch that, by this fall, we may do better than any Republican except maybe Reagan,” he said.