Romney hits Gingrich over immigration
November 23rd, 2011
04:18 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney hits Gingrich over immigration

(CNN) - Mitt Romney criticized fellow Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich Wednesday for supporting lighter restrictions against illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for years.

"People who come into this country illegally should not have a special break or special pathway to become permanent residents or citizens of this country," Romney said at a campaign stop in Des Moines.

Political Notebook: Wolf Blitzer joins Bob Costantini to go over the Tuesday night Republican candidates debate that Wolf moderated. And contributor John Avlon accuses the Super Committee of wasting an opportunity.

His comments came in response to Gingrich's knock against the GOP in CNN's Republican National Security Debate on Tuesday, where he referred to Republican immigration policies as inhumane.

Gingrich argued that the GOP, which bills itself as the "party of the family," needed to adopt policies that avoid breaking up families "who have been here a quarter century."

"I'm prepared to take the heat for saying, 'let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families,'" Gingrich said at the debate in Washington, D.C.

The former House Speaker, who has surged to the top of the GOP field in recent weeks, quickly faced pushback from some of his debate opponents over his comments. Both Romney and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann blasted his position as a form of "amnesty."

And in reaction on Wednesday, Iowa Rep. Steve King, a political heavyweight in the state with the nation's first presidential contest, cast Gingrich's position as too soft on illegal immigration.

"I think if Speaker Gingrich had that to do over again he might couch his language differently, at a minimum," King said in an interview set to air Friday on Iowa Public Television.

When asked, King, who holds a highly sought-after endorsement ahead of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus, said the comments had distanced him "a little bit away" from Gingrich.

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Lola

    All politicians support amnesty. They think it wins them votes. Reagan did amnesty and it did not win the Latino votes for the Republicans. I do not support amnesty and my family were recent (legal) immigrants.

    November 23, 2011 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    That's another Romney flip-flop. It was on CNN today, where he supported the exact same thing Gingrich said, back when.

    November 23, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  3. ziegfeldf

    Gingrich, in calling on "conservatives" to exercise a little consistency, failed–surprisingly–to understand that when they use the term "family," they aren't actually talking about families per se: it's code for anti-gay.

    November 23, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  4. Daisy

    This country is made up of illegals since way back , its silly that they want to get rid of them . thats what makes the us unique && beautiful .. the various ethnicities in it .

    November 23, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. otermbachmann

    Mittens be nice, the colorful salamander probably had gas or diarrhea, he'll hate immigrants again in a couple of days.

    November 23, 2011 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  6. Pk duster

    I work in a fast food rest i see how hard spanish people work very few people would work that hard get to kmw them may be you will learn how they care about people

    November 23, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  7. ralph100

    I will support Mitt Romney over any of them. Newt is nothing more than a gasbag. Illegals are just people like all of us, the difference they came here illegally. They are costing this country billions we can't take care of our own families and sure can't take care of millions of illegals coming here constantly looking for help. We have billions of illegals in this country, I would feel sorry for them if it wasn't for all the people waiting on a list to come here legally. They obey our laws and try to do the right thing by waiting until they can come into the country without breaking our law. Those are the people I feel sorry for.

    November 23, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  8. True Freedom

    Hey Newt, You know who's breaking up families during the deportation process? The family members who stay behind. No one is forcing them to stay... they can go live with their dearly deported.

    November 23, 2011 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  9. Pk duster

    The gop hates unions they hate paying over time they would rather pay the poor mexican worker that makes less money put them in sweet shop no heath insurance newt you are human after after all

    November 23, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    Who would have thought Gingrich would show unexpected character, compassion, and common sense on the immigration issue? Shame on Romney for flip flopping and allowing himself wiggle room to go a different direction.

    November 23, 2011 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  11. Merovingian

    Maybe Romney should cut his own lawn and not worry about illegals???

    November 23, 2011 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. opinion8it

    I used to think Romney was the best thing Republicans had going for them - now I can't look this man in the eye anymore.

    November 23, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  13. Mark Bistline

    Leave it to the Republican Party to want to distance itself from the most reasonable position presented in the entire debate.

    November 23, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  14. Doug

    I will never vote for Romney. At least you know where Newt and Obama really stand on issues.

    November 23, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  15. XYZ

    Remove Latino immigrants, but it is okay legal or illegal to grant them to tech and science workers who will take our technology home, some of whom have done heinous things, like the Pakistani financial worker who tried to blow up Times Square or the son of a former KGB agent that we had working for us that was hacking into government computers and got 2 years in prisons. They need to secure the borders and deal will illegal immigration, but we need to see the top side too. Santorum and Romney see nothing wrong with flooding us with H1bs who take good American jobs, then take our technology home, sometimes to less than friendly nations like Russia or Pakistan.

    November 23, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  16. panterazero

    It used to be possible to employ illegal immigrants when they were needed, and expel them when they weren't. That's what the Woody Guthrie song "Deportee" is about. But the majority of Americans decided that that was an inhumane practice.

    If there are to be NO undocumented immigrants in this country, then there must be NO employment for undocumented immigrants – no jobs. But that will never happen, because American corporations outrank the government. If only legal immigrants can be employed, American food prices will shoot sky-high. And if undocumented immigrants can no longer send American dollars to Mexico, Mexico will collapse and become a failed state. No illegal immigrants? Be careful what you wish for – it would probably be worse than what we've got.

    November 23, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. shawn hinton

    Get rid of all the immigrants. There nothing but a problem the u.s cannot support any more people coming to this country. There are no jobs for them bringing more people here will only make it even harder for the average american to find work. I can't believe they even think about letting them stay or letting more in. Maybe they should live like an average american then they will see the problem instead of looking at how cheap thier labor is to put more money in the pocket of the business owner.

    November 23, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  18. Dose of Reality

    I'll vote for whomever has the toughest policy on illegals and the people that hire them. Don't care at all about the other issues one bit until we fix the biggest problem with the economy.

    November 23, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  19. Jim

    We should do like SIngapore does. make them pay to come in here, limit their time here, keep them documented, and make sure they leave when their time is up...then do it all again next year. Thus we hlep control the flow, set quotas, make money (up front and with taxes after they earn). Until then though, build the wall, kick 90% of illegals out, and then we can get more legal people through the door who abide by our laws entirely. Illegals do not abilde by our laws, period.

    November 23, 2011 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  20. Army

    Liked Gingrich approach last night, not because at least proposed a solution to the immigration problem, but because stood up firm and got ready to take the political hit by not playing political games, rest of candidates focus more on what Obama does, do not do, has not done or will not do, rather than talking about their plans, other flip flop candidates want to offer more visas and bring more people in (brains?), rather than focusing on the security of this country that we need the most and was the main reason of this debate, we can already have another Osama Bin Laden or instead another Albert Epstein already in house but under the shades, let's bring everyone to identify themselves, have them pay taxes owed and then we decide who we want and need to stay, rest will have to go, Gingrich got my vote last night, I am tired to hear about Obama, just want to see who will address and fix the problems we have affecting the weakest economy we ever had in our wonderful Country.

    November 23, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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