Romney Fears ‘Flip-Flopper’ Label on Immigration, Notes Some of His Best Friends Speak Spanish

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Romney realizes going with French 101 was a mistake.Photo: Gerardo Mora/2012 Getty Images

Digging into what prompted Rupert Murdoch to needle Mitt Romney via Twitter in the past few days has produced some juicy revelations about the candidate's strategy on Hispanic voters. (Just kidding, Rupert. Nothing is more interesting than your musings about Katie Holmes!) Politico reports that at a private meeting last week with Murdoch and other potential supporters, Romney confirmed that he's being purposely vague about his immigration stance because he doesn't want to be branded a "flip-flopper." In fact, the Hispanic vote in general is kind of a dicey issue for him, though he hasn't given up on them entirely. After all, he's on a first-name basis with Marco Rubio, and one of his kids speaks Spanish.

Last week, Murdoch Tweeted:

When is Romney going to look like a challenger? Seems to play everything safe, make no news except burn off Hispanics ...

As it turns out, he wasn't just offering unsolicited campaign advice. He was gearing up for his meeting with Romney, which took place on Thursday afternoon while the rest of us were still dissecting the Supreme Court's health care decision. Romney chatted up about 40 to 50 media and business elites, including Randy Falco, the CEO of Univision, Goldman Sachs head Lloyd Blankfein, and Jets owner Woody Johnson. Falco raised the issue of immigration, giving Murdoch an opportunity to tell Romney in more than 140 characters that he has to "take the fight to Obama on this."

Sources say Romney replied that the Hispanic vote is important to him, and as Politico notes, he said he "has Sen. Marco Rubio on the trail for him and that one of his own sons speaks Spanish." However, Romney explained that he has to tread carefully because he took some extreme positions in the primaries and "I am not going to be a flip-flopper." He also acknowledged that he must perform a delicate balancing act since his base disagrees with most Hispanic voters on the issues. Basically, as John Heilemann put it, "There is no good answer" for Romney on immigration.

Judging from the series of critical tweets that followed, the News Corp. overlord wasn't satisfied with that answer, or impressed that Craig Romney narrated the 2008 campaign ad "Mi Padre" and could certainly navigate President Romney to the library in any Spanish-speaking country.