Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, in Arizona for a fundraiser, reacted to the Supreme Court’s ruling on S.B. 1070 by bravely not saying whether he agreed with the ruling or not. He also boldly criticized President Barack Obama for not being bipartisan enough.
“Today’s decision underscores the need for a President who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy,” Romney said. “President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration. This represents yet another broken promise by this President.”
Romney did not mention steps that Obama has taken, such as his decision to suspend deportation proceedings for undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children.
Romney said that “I believe that each state has the duty–and the right–to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities.” He did not, however, say how he squared that view with the definitive ruling by the Supreme Court that states do not, in fact, have the right to make their own immigration policy, nor did he indicate what policy changes he would support in building a comprehensive immigration plan.
“As Candidate Obama, he promised to present an immigration plan during his first year in office. But four years later, we are still waiting,” Romney added, without making any statement as to what his immigration plan would be.
Romney has been put in a precarious position by his own past statements and by demographic changes. Romney had taken a hard-line anti-immigration stance during the Republican primaries, saying he would veto any attempt to legislate the DREAM Act, and calling on undocumented immigrants to “self-deport.” He even courted Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, one of the architects of the Arizona law, as an adviser during the primaries.
The national electorate, however, is much less draconian on immigration issues than the Republican base, and Romney has been attempting to walk back his anti-immigration rhetoric without alienating his core GOP supporters. Conventional wisdom holds that Romney must do better with Latino voters than he currently is if he hopes to oust Obama in November.
Reporters did try to get more of a statement out of Romney’s spokesperson, Rick Gorka, but as Politico reported, Gorka was careful not to accidentally ascribe a position to his boss.
QUESTION: But we don’t have a statement one way or the other whether he agrees with this decision today by the Supreme Court — the statement itself doesn’t say.
GORKA: This country would be better served if the president wasn’t suing states but the president was actually fulfilling his campaign promises to enact an immigration policy.
QUESTION: So if your statement stands as you expressed it then, you want to remain silent as to whether or not Romney accepts today’s decision.
GORKA: Arizona has the ability under the 10th amendment to address an issue that the federal government—
QUESTION: But that wasn’t part of – the judges were not ruling whether or not the 10th amendment exists today. They were ruling on an Arizona statute. And you’re saying that his support for the 10th Amendment is effectively silent on today’s discussion, are you not?
GORKA: The bottom line, Carl, is that if the president followed through on his campaign promise and addressed this issue, we’d be better off. The governor’s put forward his own proposal.
QUESTION: Why isn’t the governor up here talking about this. He’s not addressed any of this.
GORKA: The governor has issued a statement and if there is ah (Overtalk: The statement doesn’t explain…) GORKA: It’s still a long day. And there’s still an opportunity.
Today’s statement, and Gorka’s follow-up, is a model of the type of policy Romney hopes to campaign on: an absence of policy. As long as Romney continues to refuse to make any commitment to any discernible positions, he can continue to attack Obama without fear that anything silly like opposition to his own policies will trip him up.
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