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.
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Yet another repuk running for the highest elected office in the land, who's turned MUTE over a very pressing issue for many people. And the repuks want this yoyo to President? NOT
What doesn't mittens keep a low profile on?
Political analyst, David Corn (of MOTHER JONES) said it best: President Obama's speech to the Latino community was "salsa" and alexithymic Mitt's speech was mayonnaise. Mitt can hide, or keep a low profile, and on Nov 7, he can self-deport to whatever states his homes are located in.
"The decision is fairly recent.
Mitt hasn't been coached on the correct answer yet."
You don't understand: the thinks that not giving an answer IS the right answer.
I have a great suggestion for Mittens. STAY LOW MY FRIEND!
No-one's gonna miss you!
Does Mitt Romney carry around his paperwork with him...He lived in Mexico when his father moved there with all his wives...so did they pay all the local workers well in Mexico..or did they pay just the minimum wages, and tell the Mexican workers everyday, they were luck to have a job working there in the first place...
Even Sarah Palin would have had an answer to this pressing national issues. And this man who wants to
become a president can not give some answer is very worrying even to his Republican supporters.
Mitt dewery romney it is about time you veto your self from from your self
At myviewis....can you stop comparing America to where ever it is you are from and their laws. As you say most illegals are Mexican and they work hard at lower end jobs.....the less than1% ( the children with work permit)whom may Take a job from a white collar worker is not the problem!!!! Quit your worries about the 1% you will be ok!!!!
Whats he going to say the court ruled and they have the last word for NOW.
Romney could answer that all illegals will go to the planet Kolob the mormon cult heaven. I am sure that would be a legitimate answer to all problems on immigration.
Mittens is a one trick pony, he's gonna fix the economy with the same practices that lead to the melt down: deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts to social programs. He doen't care about social issues like health care, immigration, schooling etc.
Another leadership moment gone missing. No leadership in Mitt Romney – yet he does his usual, accuse others of exactly his own shortcomings. He is a liar and a cheat and he hopes no one will notice.
How long can a draft dodger dodge reporters' questions? Can't wait for the presidential debate!
Romney waiting to learn how to Etch-a-Sketch this out and flip flop his position.
Mr. Romney's inability to articulate policy is pathetic. He has already indicated he agrees in theory with Mr. Obama's Executive Order, but still says he would veto the Dream Act. The very fact he can't enuciate that position (probably for fear of losing the few Hispanic voters he may have) means his decision making and oral communications abilities are sub-par for being President. Just another GW Bush.
Romney is waiting for his lines to be fed to him by those that cleared the GOP primary field for him, and are hoping to buy his way into the White House.
Obama 2012. Because America needs a President that speaks for America and what our country stands for.
Reflecting how silly it isto focus on Mr. Romney or President Obama regarding this issue when the body at fault for lack of movement is congress, congress, congress.
@Milton K. Wiah
You're right Sarah Palin would have had an answer, however you'd need to try and figure out what she said, she can't put a sentence together.