Romney Camp In Disarray On Immigration

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 22 2012 4:49 PM

Romney Camp In Disarray On Immigration

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - JUNE 21: Republican Presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) 29th Annual Conference on June 21, 2012 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Romney spoke about immigration reform as he continues to battle U.S. President Barack Obama for votes.

Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Mitt Romney still can't seem to figure out how to respond to Barack Obama's executive order ending deportation for the children of illegal immigrants.

He gave a speech to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials yesterday, but while generally striking a milder tone than he did during the Republican presidential primary, he did nothing to clarify where he stands on the order and whether he would allow it to stand if elected.

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As Greg Sargent points out, his stance has become such a muddle that advisers are publicly contradicting it:

But now, via Judd Legum, it appears that a Romney immigration adviser has now gone further. Asked by the Daily Telegraph about the policy, Ray Walser, a co-chair of Romney’s Latin American advisory group and Heritage Foundation scholar, said:

“My anticipation is that he would probably rescind this directive were he to be elected in November.”

Dems have pounced on this, arguing that it shows Romney would, in fact, repeal Obama’s order — something Romney has not been willing to say.

But wait, the plot thickens.

I got in contact with Walser, and he clarified to me that he was not speaking for the campaign. But in a statement, he nonetheless said that he was correct to say Romney would rescind Obama’s policy, and cited Romney’s own speech as proof:

What I was quoted as saying was not incorrect....I said “rescind.” Governor Romney said “replace and supersede.”

To be clear, I don’t think Walser was speaking for the campaign. And in a sense, Walser is right to suggest the two things could mean the same thing. One meaning of “rescind” is to “repeal”; the other is to “invalidate by a later action.”

Will Romney really be able to keep dancing around this all the way until November? It would seem there's a point where, for a candidate who wants the election to be about the economy and nothing else, Romney might as well get it over with and show his hand on immigration. What he's doing now seems unlikely to please the conservative anti-immigrant base of his party nor the millions of Latinos frustrated with the status quo. 

Matt Taylor is a reporter living in Brooklyn. He was the political correspondent for the National Memo and a staff reporter at his hometown newspaper, The East Hampton Star. He's a contributor to Newsweek/The Daily Beast. You can reach him on Twitter @matthewt_ny

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