Romney on the Arizona case: I wish the Court would let states have more latitude on immigration

Good enough? My hunch is that he would have been pounded by the base for giving this politic-yet-noncommittal answer three months ago, since he refuses to explicitly say that he supports Arizona’s law. Today, though, as the last, best hope of ending Hopenchange after one term? Wide berth.

Not a terrible response, anyway. It follows his M.O. on health care: When you’re in a jam on policy, cry “federalism!” and hope that people leave you alone.

“Now you probably heard today there was a Supreme Court decision relating to immigration and, you know, 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,” said Romney, in his first public statement on this morning’s Supreme Court ruling, which upheld part of the Arizona’s immigration law that allows those but overturned others. “And there are states now under this decision have less authority, less latitude, to enforce immigration laws.”

But Romney, speaking to a group of about 200 donors at a fundraising luncheon at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, still did not specify whether he agreed with the state’s controversial immigration law or even parts of it…

“It didn’t have to be this way,” said Romney. “The president promised in his campaign that in his first year he would take on immigration and solve our immigration challenges, put in place a long term program to care for those that want to come here legally, to deal with illegal immigration, to deal with securing our borders.”

“All these things he was going to in his first year. He had a Democrat House and a Democrat Senate, but he didn’t do it. Isn’t it time for the American people to ask him: Why?” Romney asked, to a heavy applause by the audience.

That last line of argument appeals to me in how it spotlights Obama’s cynicism but I can’t imagine that it’s winning many people over. Voters who care about amnesty know they’ve got a better shot with a Democratic administration than a Republican one, just as gay-rights activists knew they’d have a better shot at getting their agenda enacted with Obama despite his pathetic pretense of opposing gay marriage. Gays forgave him that because they knew it was a political posture that would change as soon as the White House felt safe to shift. I think amnesty activists feel the same way: They’d like O to be bolder but they know that Democrats’ inaction in his first term was more the product of political cowardice in tackling this issue before the midterms and presidential election than any principled opposition. As such, all Mitt’s really doing here is reminding them how gutless the Unicorn Prince and his allies in the Democratic leadership are when their own asses are on the line. Like I say, that appeals to me, but I don’t think it’s moving many votes. Even if you assume that Romney will revert to squishiness once in office, if you were an open-borders fan, wouldn’t you rather take your chances with O?

Here’s 90 “excruciating” seconds, in Byron York’s words, of Romney’s spokesman staying very, very, very much on message despite the press’s best attempts to get him to take a position on the Arizona law. Exit quotation from a disappointed York: “On Monday, Mitt Romney had the perfect opportunity to align himself with the conservative — and popular — side of the question, and declined to take it.”

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David Strom 5:21 PM on March 31, 2023