Romney weighs in on Arizona immigration ruling
June 25th, 2012
03:34 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney weighs in on Arizona immigration ruling

Scottsdale, Arizona (CNN) – Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney said he wished the Supreme Court had given Arizona "more latitude" in its ruling on the state's controversial immigration law, saying the high court's decision undermined states' rights on the hotly-debated issue.

However, Romney saved most of his censure for President Barack Obama, accusing the president of creating a "muddle" over the issue and failing to lead on immigration reform.

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Romney's response to the ruling came at a Scottsdale, Arizona-area fund-raiser - coincidentally, the state at the heart of the controversy.

"I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states, not less," Romney told a group of donors at a fund-raiser at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. "States now under this decision have less authority, less latitude to enforce immigration laws."

In a previous campaign statement, Romney had underlined his support for state-based solutions but had not weighed in on the specifics of the Supreme Court's ruling. Similarly, at his early afternoon event he did not address the specifics of Arizona's law or the provisions struck down by the court.

Instead, Romney said state legislators had passed the original measure because Obama had not tackled the nation's immigration policy on a federal level.

"Because he didn’t act, states and localities have tried to act and now the court's trying to get into it and sort things out and it’s a muddle," Romney said. "It’s a muddle because he failed to do what he said he’d do."

His remarks went further than the campaign’s comments on the ruling earlier Monday, when the GOP contender was barely visible to reporters traveling on his campaign plane en route to the Arizona fundraiser. After boarding the plane, the presumptive GOP nominee took off his suit jacket and sat down without acknowledging the gaggle of reporters sitting many rows back.

After Romney exited the plane in Phoenix, his traveling press secretary Rick Gorka parried reporters' questions in a roughly-seven minute exchange about the campaign's position on the court's decision. Gorka did not say whether the candidate agreed with the high court's ruling that found parts of Arizona's immigration law unconstitutional.

When pressed by reporters whether Romney was for or against the decision, Gorka repeatedly referred back to the written statement reinforcing Romney's view that states have the right "to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law."

"This country would be better served if the president wasn't suing states, but if the president was actually fulfilling his campaign promises to enact an immigration policy," Gorka told reporters.

Here's a sample of the exchange with reporters:

QUESTION: Does the Governor have a position on the Arizona law besides supporting the right of states?

GORKA: "This debate is sprung from the president failing to address this issue, so each state is left and has the power to draft and enact their own immigration policy."

QUESTION: But the Arizona law does very specific things, does the governor support those things that the Arizona law does?

GORKA: "We've addressed this."

QUESTION: What is his position on the actual law in Arizona?

GORKA: "Again, each state has the right within the Constitution to craft their own immigration laws since the federal government has failed."

QUESTION: But what does he think about the law in Arizona? You're just talking about the state's right to have a law but you're not giving any position on the actual law.

GORKA: "Ultimately this debate comes back down to the federal government and the president failing to address this. If the president followed through on his campaign promise to address illegal immigration in the first year, this debate wouldn¹t be necessary."

QUESTION: Is it fair to say that he has no opinion on the Arizona law?

GORKA: "Look, again, I¹ll say it again and again and again for you. The governor understands that states have their own right to craft policies to secure their own borders and to address illegal immigration."

As Gorka was speaking, Romney exited the plane and hopped in his ride to a nearby fundraiser, away from the view of photographers.


– CNN's Matt Hoye contributed to this article.

Also see:

Pawlenty: I'm best as a volunteer

Romney adviser: Obama immigration measure subject to repeal

Romney makes rounds at donor retreat

Jarrett to NABJ: White House bracing for health care decision


Filed under: 2012 • Arizona • Immigration • Mitt Romney • Supreme Court
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Anon

    Cowardly wimp.

    June 25, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    He needs oil for the weathervane.

    June 25, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. once upon a horse

    yet old Mitty DID get to take a jab at the president of course blaming him as usual for current immigration policies. He and his buddy Priebus did their usual finger pointing when questioned when that accusing finger should be pointing at their own chests.

    June 25, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Low profile? Makes sense, since he slithers on his belly.

    June 25, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. Natalie

    You have to get "low" to shake that Etch-a-Sketch. Interesting to see what this panderer-in-chief will do now. The guy simply can't take a stand for the life of him. Clearly NOT presidential material. What is wrong with the fools who'd vote for this empty suit. All he'd be is a pawn for his handlers (Norquest, Rove, Kock Bros., and the money gang).

    June 25, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    Question: [Insert legitimate question about the SUBSTANCE of Deputy Doublethink's positions, policies, etc.]

    Gorka: [Insert deflection, tangential blather, substanceless drivel and complete refusal to answer.]

    Rinse and repeat.

    June 25, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Deputy Doublethink: "State's rights Yammer Yammer Ding Dong!!!!"

    SCOTUS: "Ummm, no."

    The End.

    June 25, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. Buckeye

    Willard loves to lead from behind. Perhaps he hasn't received his orders/talking points yet. Maybe he's still coming to grips with how to etch a sketch that the AZ "model" has been smacked down. If the ACA is smacked down, ol' Willard will be oh for two (even though he tries to hide from Romneycare).
    So Willard has time to ponder: what are his handlers' directives after AZ; what will he propose to replace Romneycare if it is repealed (as if he had a clue); and when will he ever get around to releasing all of the last 10 years worth of tax returns like his daddy did back in the day....

    June 25, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. MDNA = MaDge Not Applicable!

    This is the kind of answers to press questions that can be expected from a "President Weathervane"!

    June 25, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. BeverlyNC

    Of course Romney is hiding from the media on the immigration issue. He still has no answer or opinion formed yet on President Obama min DREAM Act steps 2 weeks ago. Romney has no answers on any issue. He avoids policy discussions, where he stands on them, and what he is FOR. All we know is he wants to be President but we don't even know why on that either. He appears to be just a corporate puppet who will do anything to fill an office he has no idea what he would do with or how he would serve the People as the oath requires. I'll stay with President Obama.

    June 25, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I think it's fair to say Romney has "selective hearing" unless he hears "ching chang"(the sound of money).

    June 25, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. Ronda in Houston,TX

    If Romney can comment on the current job numbers when they are reported in minutues of being reported, why won't he comment on this? Maybe because he disagrees with the SCOTUS complete ruling? Maybe because Romney believes in what AZ is wanting.

    June 25, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    He's keeping a low profile because he doesn't want to answer any questions with evasive responses. He has no answers, nor any solutions. He's armed to the gills with talking points, lacking any intellectual substance.

    June 25, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. v_mag

    The Flipper is trying to find the appropriate way to flip-flop at this juncture. He could flip toward the red-meat teabaggers and alienate (pun intended) the Hispanics he needs. He could flip toward the Hispanics he needs and alienate his rabid base, who he has to have. Looks like he's gonna flop around like a fish on hot beach sand and not please anybody.

    Yeah, that's the ticket, Flip. Forcefully demonstrate your indecisiveness and lack of clue. Way to look presidential!

    June 25, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. AJ

    Why does Romney refuse to let the voters know where he stands on issues? Why does he continually obfuscate his views, change his views, not answer questions that are asked, avoid questions altogether? Why is Romney such a coward? Where is his spine, his integrity? Tell us what you believe, where you stand, what your vision is, what policies you intend to implement – and let the chips fall where they may. Stop treating voters as though we are stupid.

    June 25, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. scmom

    Keeping it low because he hadn't got the spin to make it look bad for the president. That takes a little time so the whole republican crowd can be sure to say the same thing of course.

    June 25, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. Greg in Arkansas

    Apparently, the little light on his waffle iron is not on yet, so he doesn't know which way to flip....more later...

    June 25, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    I know. I know. Ooh. Ooh. I know. He's waiting for the official talking point position from Rush Limbaugh.

    June 25, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. Bill from GA

    What will Mitts do if he gets asked a tough question during the debates in October??

    June 25, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  20. chuck weidemann

    And this man should be president because????

    June 25, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. Larry L

    This gutless, spoiled preppy never actually stands for anything. His followers don't seem to require answers from him but remain content with his flip-flopping on those few things he attempted to offer has his "position". He never, ever gives anybody a straight answer and builds his whole platform on being "against" everything. Cowardly leadership!

    June 25, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. California Gary

    He made his position clear during the primary contests........he said the Arizona law was a good one to model for the entire country. Looks pretty foolish now........so I expect he will bob and weave, duck and hide, zig and zag until the issue gets eclipsed by something else.

    June 25, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. Woman In California

    Romney exited the plane and hopped in his ride to a nearby fundraiser, away from the view of photographers.

    Some leadership. The entire country is waiting for Willard to become a man and his time is running out fast. The US doesn't need a president MIA each time a decision needs to be made. Willard has shown us time and time again he is incapable of making any intelligent decisions or comments on any matter without waiting to see what the president does first. So the question needs to be asked – what is he going to do if he becomes president? Wait on Obama's response? No leadership whatsoever and America deserves better.

    June 25, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. Steve, New York City

    Does Romney have a view on anything (aside from leaning hard-right on social issues) or is trashing Obama his sole campaign tactic?

    The GOP really needs to do a tremendous deal, to prove to people that it's not just the party of the Archie Bunkers of the world.

    June 25, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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