Immigration has been, and probably always will be, a tricky issue for Mitt Romney. Veer too far right, and he alienates many Hispanic voters and non-Hispanic moderates who happen to favor a balanced approach to immigration reform. Veer too far left, and he alienates all the members of his base who would totally be picking lettuce right now for $4 an hour if it wasn't for those Damn Illegals. So instead of veering one way or the other, Romney has, increasingly, decided to just get off the road entirely.
In the ten days since President Obama announced that his administration would no longer deport most illegal immigrants who came to the country as minors, Romney has refused to say whether he would continue the policy as president, despite this being a choice that he would definitely have to make should he become president. Romney was similarly uninterested this morning in sharing any useful information about where he stands on Arizona's controversial immigration law or the new Supreme Court decision partially striking it down. Here's his statement on the Court's ruling:
"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. President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration. This represents yet another broken promise by this President. 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. As Candidate Obama, he promised to present an immigration plan during his first year in office. But 4 years later, we are still waiting."
You didn't miss the part where Romney tells us how he feels about the law or the ruling. It's not there. Nor was it forthcoming from Romney's press secretary, who similarly declined to say whether Romney agrees with the Arizona law. Refusing to stick your neck out on controversial issues — now that's leadership. Take notes, Obama!
Update: Check out this transcript of a conversation between Romney's spokesman and reporters on Romney's plane today, courtesy of Politico:
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."
QUESTION: Does he have a position on the law, or no position?
GORKA: "The governor has his own immigration policy that he laid out in Orlando and in the primary, which he would implement as president which would address this issue. Whereas Obama has had four years in the office and has yet to address it in a meaningful way."
QUESTION: But does the Governor have a position on the Arizona law besides supporting the right of states?
GORKA: "This debate is sprung from the president failing to address this issue, so each state is left and has the power to draft and enact their own immigration policy."
QUESTION: But the Arizona law does very specific things, does the governor support those things that the Arizona law does?
GORKA: "We've addressed this."
It goes on like this forever.
Update II: After a full day's worth of evasiveness, Romney, during a fund-raising event, finally worked up the courage to express a measure of dissatisfaction with the Supreme Court's immigration decision, while continuing to avoid discussing the actual laws in question:
"Now you probably heard today there was a Supreme Court decision relating to immigration and given 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," Romney told some 200 donors seated in a hotel ballroom for his remarks. "And there are states now under this decision have less authority, less latitude to enforce immigration laws."