WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mitt Romney defended his anti-illegal immigration credentials Friday, telling CNN there was no gap between his tough enforcement rhetoric on the stump and recent reports that he continued to employ workers at his Massachusetts home who could not legally work in this country months after news accounts first revealed their status.
“I certainly have never proposed that homeowners have a responsibility when they hire a contractor to then go out and inquire of the company’s employees whether they happen to be legal or not,” the Republican presidential candidate told CNN’s Dana Bash after an Iowa campaign stop. “As a homeowner… that’s not something that’s available under the current system in this country.”
He added that that kind of verification was the responsibility of the companies themselves, and of the federal government.
When the former Massachusetts governor was asked if, as a presidential candidate, he should have made a special effort to ensure workers at his home were eligible to work in this country – gone the “extra mile” – he reacted angrily.
“And what’s the extra mile? … and you tell me how to do that in this country,” he said. “Let’s say I go to a restaurant, should I make sure that waiters there are all legal? How would I do that?”
Romney also told reporters that his Thursday speech on faith was not designed to address concerns among many evangelicals, who will form a major voting bloc in next month’s Iowa caucuses. “The speech was not about politics I don’t know how the politics work,” he said. “[I] don’t know what the implications are from a political standpoint” - although his own campaign sent out a release Friday noting the political impact of that speech.
– CNN’s Dana Bash contributed to this report