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Mr. Plastic strikes again! Today, Mitt Romney went on Face the Nation, his first non-Faux News interview since the GOP primary. In this segment, Bob Schieffer asks him whether he would repeal President Obama's executive order on immigration announced last Friday that will stop deporting some kids who are illegal immigrants:
Here's the transcript for those who cannot view the video:
BOB SCHIEFFER: The President said, Friday, the government will no longer seek to deport eight hundred thousand of these young illegal immigrants who were brought into this country by their parents. I think you said this is just a short-term solution to a long-term problem, but would you repeal this order if you became President?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, let's step back and-- and look at the issue. I mean, first of all, we have to secure the border. We need to have an employment verification system to make sure that those that are working here in this country are here legally and then with regards to these kids who were brought in by their parents through no fault of their own, there needs to be a long-term solution so they know what their status is. This is something Congress has been working on, and I thought we are about to see some proposals brought forward by Senator Marco Rubio and by Democrat senators, but the President jumped in and said I'm going to take this action. He called it a stopgap measure. I-- I don't know why he feels stopgap measures are the right way to go and he--
BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): Well, what would you do about it?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, as-- as you know, he was-- he was President for the last three and a half years, did nothing on immigration. Two years, he had a Democrats' House in Senate, did nothing of permanent or-- or long-term basis. What I would do is I'd make sure that by coming into office I would work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution for the-- for the children of those that-- that have come here illegally--
BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): Would you--
MITT ROMNEY: --and I've said, for instance, that-- that those who served in the military, I would give permanent residents, too.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Sure, but would you repeal this?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, it would be overtaken by events, if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution with-- with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals, such that they know what their-- their stat-- setting is going to be--
BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): But would--
MITT ROMNEY: --not just-- not-- not just for the term of the President, but on a permanent basis.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I-- I won't keep on about this but just to-- to make sure I understand, would you leave this in place while you worked out a long-term solution or would you just repeal it?
MITT ROMNEY: We'll-- we'll look at that-- we'll look at that setting as we-- as we reach that. But my anticipation is, I'd come into office and say we need to get this done on a long-term basis, not this kind of a stopgap measure. What-- what the President did, he-- he should have worked on this years ago. If he felt seriously about this, he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate, but he didn't. He saves these sort of things until four and a half months before the general election.
It wasn't only once, twice or three times that Bob Schieffer tried to get a straight answer out of Romney. It was four times that he tried, and each time, Romney pivoted to his talking points. First, he pivots to the fact that we need more accountability and that Obama had jumped the gun, bypassing Marco Rubio's version of the DREAM Act and "some Democrat senators", notwithstanding that the original DREAM Act died due to the GOP Senators' filibuster to table the issue. Second, he pivots to the fact that Obama is just attacking this problem now and not before. Third, now he's just rambling and not making much sense. The fourth and last time Bob Schieffer pressed on this, he just reiterates the former points that it should be a long-term solution and that President Obama has failed to enact such a solution. I must say, if there is an award for politicians, Mitt Romney would win as Best Pivoter and Redirection. But, other than the usual politics, why it is so hard for Mitt to just answer this seemingly simple question? Let's look what Howard Dean had to say later on the show:
Again, the transcript:
BOB SCHIEFFER: He seems to agree with a principal, in principle at least with the President on the action he took on immigration, about trying to do something for these children who were brought into the country.
HOWARD DEAN: This is a brilliant move on the President's part because the President-- Governor Romney is on record as saying he would veto the Dream Act. President Obama just put in what he could of the Dream Act by executive orders since the Congress refused to pass it and now Romney is left holding the bag. If he says anything in favor of what the President wants to do, he alienates the right wing, which has been his problem all along, and if he denies what the President says. He says it's a terrible idea. He digs himself in even deeper hole with Latinos. So I-- I think this is the end of the road for Governor Romney on the Latino front. He can't win that, unless, he puts somebody on the ticket who is a Latino. I think he's going to lose that by a lot, and I think that's a bad thing because most people believe that if you can't get forty percent of the Latino vote and you're a Republican you can't win. He's not going to get anywhere as close to forty percent.
In short, indeed, it was a brilliant "10-dimensional chess" move by President Obama again. By giving the executive order (well, actually it's not an executive order but a "deferred action process" directive for the Department of Homeland Security, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Executive Branch, to implement the policy), President Obama has put Mitt Romney between a rock and a hard place. If he agrees, he will make those right wing supporters mad that he went back on his words. Remember that during the vicious Republican primary, Mitt Romney flat out stated that if the DREAM Act were to be passed by Congress, he would veto it. Now, as the general election requires him to reset and move towards the left, he is pressed to go against his former position. Yet, if he panders to the right wingnuts still, he risks further alienating the Latino community, where President Obama holds a 43-point margin over Romney as of June 2012. This morning on This Week, George Will says that if Romney cannot garner 31% of the Latino vote, he will lose. The chart in the link before shows Romney at 23%, with 11% undecided--but remember that this poll was before President Obama's announcement. Further alienating the Latin community is not an option for Mitt Romney at all.
In addition to putting Mitt in a difficult situation, he is also robbing Marco Rubio's potential for influence within the Latino community, especially if he was going to be the VP pick. Chances are, some time between last week and the General Election, Rubio was going to come out with his DREAM Act to help swing the Latino vote to Romney, pointing out that President Obama has not done anything to help solve the immigration issues they face at all. However, because of this executive order now, that is no longer in play. Mitt Romney and Rubio have missed their chances, and now it is truly questionable whether Rubio would be a good VP pick for Romney, having lost his greatest asset as someone who has the potential to bring in the Latino votes.
I think it was great today that Bob Schieffer pressed Romney to answer such straightfoward questions, even though in the end he did not get a straight answer out of him. It sure puts pressure on Romney and his campaign to finally nail down their positions. So far, they have not offered to the American public anything concrete or specific that people can scrutinize and discuss. I sure hope this is the beginning of the MSM being more critical of Romney's tendency to handwave questions away. No, if you are going to become president, you should be able to pick a position, stick to it, and explain yourself as to why you think this course of action will be good for the country. Play time with feeble candidates from the GOP primary is over, Mitt. From here on out, you're playing with the big boys now, and I can't wait until the presidential debates where there will be no room for pivoting with Obama. Hopefully, the MSM will now keep hammering him until he gives the public where he stands on all issues.
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