Waiting for Romney: Democrats pounce on Senate leader’s deferral on immigration
“I think we’re going to wait and see what Governor Romney has to say,” said Mitch McConnell.
President Obama’s campaign Tuesday pounced on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to comment on the Obama administration’s move to relax deportation laws for certain young undocumented immigrants until presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney outlines his position.
Obama on Friday announced that the Department of Homeland Security would not seek to deport up to 800,000 children of undocumented immigrants in this country and instead would offer them temporary work permits. Asked about the announcement on Tuesday afternoon McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, told reporters that he was taking a “wait and see” approach on the new policy until Romney expresses his view.
“I think we’re going to wait and see what Governor Romney has to say, and then our members are going to be discussing his views on this, and I think many of them will have similar views. Others may not,” McConnell said. “My view is he is the leader of our party from now until November and, we hope, beyond. And we’re going to wait and see what he has to say about it and be happy to respond to that at that point.”
The reaction from Democrats was swift as they sought to capitalize on McConnell’s approach – and Romney’s failure to take a stand on Obama’s policy.
“McConnell says he’s waiting for Romney to lay out position on immigration. Have a seat, Mitch. This could take awhile!” Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said on Twitter.
“I can’t imagine that he’s going to get an answer very soon,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in regards to McConnell. “Romney’s had four or five days, and he was asked four different times on the [Bob] Schieffer program [“Face the Nation”] this weekend what he wanted to do, and he wouldn’t answer.”
McConnell’s comments may have inadvertently upped the stakes for Romney’s speech this week before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), where he’s expected to address the topic.
Romney had been caught-flat footed after Obama’s announcement on Friday and now a top party leader has essentially asked the candidate to give a clearer response.
It is not the first time members of Romney’s own party have hurt their nominee by calling attention to his oft-criticized handling of the immigration issue.
Last month Bettina Inclán, the Hispanic Outreach Director for the Republican National Committee, made a comment that the organization quickly tried to walk back.
“As a candidate, to my understanding, he’s still deciding what his position on immigration is,” Inclán said at a press event in Washington.
Minutes later RNC spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski tried to downplay Inclan’s comments, claiming that “we never said the governor hasn’t decided on immigration.”
Matthew Jaffe is covering the 2012 campaign for ABC News & Univision.
(Photo: Flickr, Gage Skidmore)