Mitt Romney: Let's face it, I'm more hawkish on immigration than Trump is

Am I to understand that when he told us he was “severely conservative” … he meant it?

Better yet, am I to understand that when he veered right in the 2012 primaries on amnesty, calling for self-deportation and attrition through enforcement, he wasn’t just pandering to skeptical righties? He was actually going to implement those policies as president, not suddenly have a change of heart once candidates to his right like Rick Perry had been vanquished?

We might need to call an emergency meeting of Salon Conservatives Club to discuss this development. What happens when a RINO isn’t really a RINO?

“For instance, I’m a deficit hawk,” Romney said. “That makes me more conservative than a lot of Republicans and a lot of Democrats. I’m also more of a hawk on immigration than even the president. My view was these DACA kids shouldn’t all be allowed to stay in the country legally.”…

Romney said he is against giving legal residence to those 1.8 million people.

“That was not my posture,” Romney said. “So I was more conservative than others in my party. Now I will accept the president’s view on this, but for me, I draw the line and say, those who’ve come illegally should not be given a special path to citizenship.”

Romney said he believes DACA recipients “need to do more” to justify permanent residency, such as attending community college, getting a degree, serving in the military or serving in needed occupations like teaching.

Is Romney more hardline on immigration than Trump? Here’s a Trump interview from Newsmax dated November 26, 2012, around three weeks after Romney’s loss to Obama:

“The Democrats didn’t have a policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, but what they did have going for them is they weren’t mean-spirited about it,” Trump says. “They didn’t know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind.”

Romney’s solution of “self deportation” for illegal aliens made no sense and suggested that Republicans do not care about Hispanics in general, Trump says.

“He had a crazy policy of self deportation which was maniacal,” Trump says. “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote,” Trump notes. “He lost the Asian vote. He lost everybody who is inspired to come into this country.”

Four years later he got elected babbling about the Wall. Strangely, though, four months into his 2016 candidacy he was still bashing Romney for having supported self-deportation:

To this day I’m still not sure what his point was there. Was he knocking Romney for being tone deaf and “mean-spirited” by pushing self-deportation even though at the time Trump was pushing mass deportation? Or was he knocking Romney because Trump had done a complete 180 on the issue in the intervening three years and now considered self-deportation a weak, RINO-y policy, far short of the “toughness” he himself displayed?

Maybe he was making both points. This is Trump, after all.

Romney was characteristically slippery in 2012 about whether he supported legalizing DACA registrants. He told the Denver Post a month before Election Day that he wouldn’t revoke legal status for anyone who’d already enrolled for a two-year term in the program. When the Post pressed him on what should happen to DACA registrants after those two years lapsed, Romney claimed the question was moot because he would pass immigration reform in his first year that would address their status legislatively. That implies that some would receive amnesty of some sort under the new law, either full citizenship or permanent residency (which of course would inevitably be amended in the future to allow them to apply for full citizenship). But that doesn’t contradict what he said yesterday in Utah: His point was that he wouldn’t have granted *all* DACA registrants legal status, as Trump would have if Democrats had accepted his offer. In fact, Trump’s offer last month went further than that. He was ready to grant citizenship to anyone who was eligible for DACA, irrespective of whether they’d actually enrolled in the program.

And Romney did say in late 2011 that he would veto the DREAM Act as president. That fact alone arguably makes him more hawkish than Trump. So why is it so difficult to believe that he’s sincere about his immigration hawkishness? As McKay Coppins notes, it’s not like he needs to posture as a hardliner on this subject to get elected in Utah. To the contrary:

It’s hard to trust Romney’s sincerity on this partly for reasons specific to him and partly for reasons specific to his class. He is, as noted, a famously slippery politician who was more centrist in approach when running for office in Massachusetts. You’re always rolling the dice when you rely on Romney to stick to a position. But beyond that, he’s headed to Washington as not just the de facto leader of anti-Trump Republicans but as the supreme example of a soft-spoken establishment country-club GOPer in the modern party. Immigration hawkishness is bound up with populist politics yet here’s the anti-populist-in-chief getting to Trump’s right on it. Does not compute. Yet here we are.

t’s going to be weird yet fun when Ann “In Trump We Trust” Coulter discovers she actually prefers Sen. Romney to Trump on this issue. Don’t laugh! She’s been disillusioned with POTUS since the omnibus fiasco last week. The time is ripe for her to re-embrace Mitt. Exit quotation via Romney, from yesterday’s Utah event: “(Trump) has endorsed me in this race. He respects people who speak their mind, because now and then, as you know, if he says something I think is wrong, I’ll point it out. And if he disagrees with me, he points it out even harder.” Did Trump respect when Romney called him a fraud and a fake during the primaries two years ago?

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