President Obama made a political decision on immigration. So what?
By Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake,
In the immediate aftermath of President Obama’s decision to stop deporting young illegal immigrants on Friday, Republicans stayed silent as they sought to calculate the right response — one that would walk the fine line between alienating their political base and sending (another) negative signal to the Hispanic community they badly need to court.<script src="http://player.ooyala.com/player.js?width=454&height=255&embedCode=VxZm4zNTogpBiBVxzv1yAoF6t_uTtqBW"></script>
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney eventually released a statement and then followed up on it during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” — his first non-Fox News Channel Sunday show interview during the campaign to date.
Here’s what Romney told “Face” host Bob Schieffer:
“ I think the timing is pretty clear, if [Obama] really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with illegal immigration in America, than this is something he would have taken up in his first three and a half years, not in his last few months.”
Schieffer followed up by asking Romney if that meant that the president’s motivations were solely political. “Well, that’s certainly a big part of the equation,” responded Romney.
Romney’s right. And it doesn’t matter a bit.
The simple fact is that nothing a president does is without political calculation — and that goes triple when the November election is just 141 days away.
President Obama is, after all, a politician who, like all politicians, wants to keep his job. No, Obama didn’t spend every moment of his time over his first three-plus years in office thinking about his reelection bid, but it was never — nor should it ever be — far from his mind.
While Obama sought to portray the immigration decision as the “right thing to do,” he and his advisers also understand that, by stopping the deportation of young illegal immigrants, he scored a political double whammy.
Not only does the decision send a clear signal to the Hispanic community, some of who had grown disillusioned with the lack of movement from the Obama Administration on their priorities, that the president is looking out for them, but it also puts Romney (and Republicans more broadly) in a very difficult political position.
(How difficult? Watch how Romney tried to avoid directly answering whether he supports the policy under questioning from Schieffer.)
What Romney — and Republicans — are clearly hoping with their response to the Obama decision is that they can cast Obama as overly political, constantly prioritizing good politics over good policy.
The problem with that line of argument is that regular people (a.k.a. undecided voters) tend not to be swayed by those sort of process arguments. The end result is the end result; the means to that end is something that just doesn’t interest them.
That’s why Obama was politically smart to do what he did on Friday and why Romney’s smartest strategy is to pivot away from immigration and back to the state of the economy as fast as he can.
Romney and the desire for details: Romney’s campaign is defending its lack of details on what it would do as an alternative to Obama’s new immigration policy.
In the interview with Schieffer, Romney didn’t offer much of a plan, except to say that those who serve in the military should get permanent residency.
“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,” Romney said.
Romney campaign adviser Stuart Stevens followed up, telling reporters Sunday that Romney would be providing more details in the future, but took issue with the idea that his candidate has been any less forthcoming than Obama.
“As the campaign goes on, you’ll have more specifics,” Stevens told reporters Sunday after a rally in Newark, N.J. “But I think that Governor Romney has been more specific [than] the president on most of these big issues.”
Top Obama adviser David Plouffe says the president didn’t declassify national security information and leak it to the New York Times, and he rejects the idea that the investigation into the apparent leaks should be handled by a special prosecutor.
Obama has now played 100 rounds of golf during his presidency.
Obama’s campaign today will announce the endorsement of Hispanic talk show host Cristina Saralegui. Saralegui was brought to the United States when she was 12 years old.
Rick Santorum says he stands by his campaign trail criticisms of Romney. And he wouldn’t accept a cabinet post either.
A horse co-owned by Ann Romney will take part in the dressage competition at the London Olympics this summer.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) says he “wasn’t pining to be president.”
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is raising money for Rhode Island congressional hopeful Brendan Doherty (R), who is challenging Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.).
Like father, like son. Delaware Attorney General and vice presidential son Beau Biden gaffed at the North Carolina Democratic Party convention this weekend during an attempt to hit Romney for not running for reelection. “I’ve never met a successful politician who didn’t run again,” he said. The problem? Democratic North Carolina governor Bev Perdue isn’t seeking a second term this year.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wants another crack at campaign finance reform.
“How Obama became black” — David Maraniss, Washington Post
“The Real Story Of Barack Obama” — Ben Smith, BuzzFeed
“Alabama law drives out illegal immigrants but also has unexpected consequences” — Pamela Constable, Washington Post
“Supreme Court review of health care under microscope (and stopwatch)” — Robert Barnes, Washington Post
“For Obama, a ‘team of rivals’; For Romney, debate and rebuttal” — Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times