ABC News’ Teddy Davis Reports: Sen. Sam Brownback’s, R-Kan., immigration stance has come under attack by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the Kansas Republican couldn’t be happier.
"We’ve cut back on our target from that standpoint to a level where we think we can win, but we’re not trying to overwhelm anybody," said Romney, according to the Associated Press.
Brownback, who is campaigning on a "pro-life, whole life" platform, is hoping to beat expectations in the Aug. 11 Straw Poll. But he still faces a large cash-on-hand disparity against Romney.
"I’m like the tortoise in this race," Brownback told ABC News. "I don’t like how it begins, but I like how it ends. Iowans take their role in the presidential process seriously and will choose the candidate that best matches their conservative, Midwestern values."
Brownback knows that when the press is deciding how to frame a crowded primary race, it looks, in part, to who the front-running candidates decide to engage.
The downside with being attacked by Romney is that it could bring additional attention to Brownback’s 2006 vote in favor of legislation that would have extended a path to earned citizenship to the more than 10 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States.
"I disagree with amnesty. Senator Brownback supported that bill. Senator Brownback supported McCain-Kennedy," said Romney while campaigning in Iowa on Saturday, according to the Des Moines Register’ Tom Beaumont.
Earned legalization is unpopular with many of the conservatives who participate in the Iowa caucuses.
After casting a pro-earned legalization vote in 2006, Brownback told reporters in April of 2007 that he would not cast the same vote again, citing concerns over non-marital "chain migration," the practice by which immigrants who gain legal status can sponsor family members to join them.
The Brownback campaign responded to the substance of Romney’s charge by noting that Romney has undergone his own change of heart on earned legalization.
Romney criticized Brownback on the same day that he sought to tamp down expectations for himself in next month’s Iowa GOP Straw Poll.