Mitt Romney has something of a reputation of being a flip-flopper. A man with no constant star. A spineless jellyfish, a man with no firm convictions, a man who will say or do anything he thinks might win him a vote. But Mitt has drawn a line in the sand: he is not going to flip-flop from whatever immigration position he holds.
Romney reportedly said this at a fundraiser in Manhattan last Thursday organized by investment banker Ken Langone. The fundraiser was a veritable who’s who of rich New York conservatives, including Goldman Sachs head Lloyd Blankfein, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, real estate mogul Bill Rudin and News Corp founder and CEO Rupert Murdoch.
Politico reports that Romney responded to a question from Murdoch, who said to Romney, “You have to take the fight to Obama on this.” Murdoch, an American citizen who was born in Australia, indicated that Romney needed to reach out to immigrants, especially Latinos.
Romney, however, said he did not intend to soften the hardline anti-immigration stance he took during the GOP primaries.
Romney said he took certain positions in the primary that were to the right of where he needed to be in the general election, according to the report. He added, “I am not going to be a flip-flopper,” noting that Latino voters make up less than 20 percent of the vote in swing states.
Romney also said that he is not completely ignoring the Latino vote, saying that he is using Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as a surrogate, adding that one of Romney’s sons speaks Spanish.
Romney also conceded that Obama’s move to suspend deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children was a savvy political move. He also tacitly admitted that much of the GOP outrage on the matter was pure politics, saying that Congressional Republicans had been working on a similar plan before Obama’s announcement.
Murdoch, who has publicly praised Obama’s decision, sent out a series of tweets after the meeting that were highly critical of Romney. In one, Murdoch said, “Tough [Obama] Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful.”
Murdoch also called out Romney for “play[ing] it safe,” asking,”When is Romney going to look like a challenger?” He also said Romney’s immigration policy was “burn[ing] off Hispanics.”
Romney has been caught in a difficult position on immigration. As with many of his positions, his immigration stance was adopted more for political expediency than out of any core conviction. Romney has gained a reputation as a flip-flopper, however, and his base has been hyper-vigilant, looking for warning signs of apostasy from the former Massachusetts governor.
Romney is now forced to try to balance his previous statements on immigration with a national electorate — and a number of wealthy backers — who are much more comfortable with immigration than Romney’s base. It’s a difficult tightrope for Romney to walk, one that will only get tougher as November draws nearer and the questions on immigration grow tougher.
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