Ann Coulter on 2016: Second look at Mitt Romney?

Via MofoPolitics, which is responsible for the clip, and Free Republic, where the Romney 3.0 movement is, shall we say, off to a bad start in the comments. I’m 90 percent sure she’s joking but there’s no way to be sure: Any conservative willing to offer three cheers for RomneyCare qualifies, indisputably, as a true blue Mitt fan. I didn’t think they existed, but they do. Even among people who knew all along that, if nominated, he would lose.

Why Romney instead of someone else, though? One big reason, she says, is immigration. He was the guy who hammered Rick Perry in the debates for supporting in-state tuition for illegals; he was also the guy who made attrition through enforcement — a.k.a. “self-deportation” — the foundation of his immigration policy, despite endless bleating from the media. Call him a squish on other matters if you like but on amnesty he was rock-solid. But see, this was the whole problem with Romney: Was he rock-solid on immigration or was he merely telling primary voters what he thought they wanted to hear? You never really knew with Mitt. He already had one gigantic, potentially fatal political liability with health care. He likely reasoned, correctly, that he couldn’t afford another one by taking a centrist line on immigration. So he became a staunch conservative on legalization and citizenship and it worked for him — for awhile.

How about after the election, though, when he no longer had to worry about offending voters? Here’s what he told a WaPo reporter for a book on the 2012 campaign that came out last year:

On his plan for self-deportation, Romney said, “I still don’t know whether it’s seen as being punitive in the Hispanic community. I mean, I know it is in the Anglo community … I didn’t recognize how negative and punitive that term would be seen by the voting community.”…

When Romney started to trail Gingrich in polls ahead of the South Carolina primary, the book explains that his advisers want to run immigration-themed ads against Gingrich — but Romney refused to “run an immigration campaign.”

Balz also reports in Collision 2012 that Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, thought that the immigration attacks on Perry were “both damaging and unnecessary.”

“Looking back, I think that’s right,” Romney told Balz. “I think that I was ineffective in being able to bring Hispanic voters into our circle and that had I been less pointed on that in the debates, I would have been more likely to get more Hispanic voters.”

That sounds to me like a man who regrets having taken such a hard line. Here he is again in November 2013, months after the Gang of Eight bill passed the Senate:

Another issue — immigration — is something the Republican Party must deal with, Mitt Romney said. Asked if there should be a pathway to citizenship put forward, he said, “I do believe those who come here illegally ought to have an opportunity to get in line with everybody else. I don’t think those who come here illegally should jump to the front of the line or be given a special deal, be rewarded for coming here illegally, but I think they should have a chance just like anybody else to get in line and to become a citizen if they’d like to do so.”

It’s not entirely clear what he means there. Does he think illegals should be allowed to stay, with legal status, while they get in line to apply for citizenship, or does he think they should be removed and then try applying for a visa while back in their own country just like every other aspiring American in the world? Come to think of it, that’s not the right question. The right question is, how would President Romney, having just won a squeaker over Obama but having lost 70+ percent of the Latino vote, respond to a concerted push by congressional Democrats for immigration reform? Would he have held firm to “self-deportation” or, having been chastened by the Latino reaction to “self-deportation” during the campaign and with Republican leaders breathing down his neck about changing demographics and 2016, would he have tried to broker some sort of deal involving legalization? Which seems truer to the Romney ethos to you? Reagan signed an amnesty but Mitt the Unconquerable wouldn’t have?

I do think she’s right that it’ll probably be a governor in 2016, though. Are there any of those on the Republican bench who are as firmly opposed to amnesty as Romney 2012 was?