Romney on Arizona decision: Supreme Court should ‘give more latitude to the states’

at 04:54 PM ET, 06/25/2012

In case there was any doubt, here’s proof: Mitt Romney’s campaign does not want to talk about the Arizona immigration law.

After the Supreme Court struck down large chunks of the controversial legislation, Romney put out a vague statement saying Obama “failed to provide any leadership on immigration” and that “each state has the duty — and the right — to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law” — without mentioning any specifics on the Supreme Court’s decision or the law itself.

When he spoke at a fundraiser in Scottsdale, Romney elaborated, but not much.

”[G]iven the failure of the immigration policy in this country, I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states, not less,” he said. “And there are states now under this decision have less authority, less latitude, to enforce immigration laws.” Because Obama hasn’t acted, he said, “it’s a muddle.”

But Romney did not offer an opinion on the law itself or the specifics of the decision.

Earlier, on the flight to Arizona, Reporters tried to get Romney spokesman Rick Gorka to explain the canddiate’s position. Here’s what ensued:

Politico has a transcript of the seven-minute exchange in which Gorka dodged 21 questions about the decision, repeatedly offering variations on the themes of Romney’s statement. Here’s a sample:

QUESTION: So does he think it's wrongly decided?
GORKA: “The governor supports the states' rights to do this. It's a 10th amendment issue.”
QUESTION: So he thinks it's constitutional?
GORKA: “The governor believes the states have the rights to craft their own immigration laws, especially when the federal government has failed to do so.”
QUESTION: And what does he think about parts invalidated?
GORKA: “What Arizona has done and other states have done is a direct result of the failure of this president to address illegal immigration. It's within their rights to craft those laws and this debate, and the Supreme Court ruling is a direct response of the president failing to address this issue.”
QUESTION: Does (Romney) support the law as it was drafted in Arizona?
GORKA: “The governor supports the right of states, that's all we're going to say on this issue.”

According to the Post’s Phil Rucker, Romney himself did not speak with reporters and aides did not let the media record his arrival in Phoenix.

As The Fix wrote earlier today, Romney is in a tight spot here. He doesn’t want to irritate the GOP base by criticizing a law that is very popular with Republicans. But he doesn’t want to alienate Hispanic voters by endorsing such a harsh policy that is deeply unpopular in that community. So the smart thing to do is say as little as possible — if he can keep it up.

 
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