While President Obama released a statement today that got at specifics in the Supreme Court's split decision on the Arizona immigration law, his rival, Republican Mitt Romney, has stayed mum to the point that it's not clear if Romney supports the law the Supreme Court ruled on. Or, if like the court, he agrees with parts of it and not with others.
In a short statement released after the Supreme Court decision, Romney said President Obama "has failed to provide any leadership on immigration." And he pointed out that while candidate Obama promised comprehensive reform, President Obama has not been able to carry through.
Romney said at a debate in Arizona and sponsored by CNN that a different Arizona immigration law that requires employers to verify a worker's legal status should be a model for the nation. But he has not specifically said if he supports the Arizona's policy - affirmed today by the Supreme Court - of asking people stopped by local police for immigration documentation.
Asked repeatedly today whether Romney supports the Arizona immigration law, and what he thinks of the parts overturned by the court, Romney spokesman Rick Gorka said that Romney believes states have the right to draft immigration laws of their own when the federal government fails to do so.
Here is how it went when asked by reporters:
QUESTION: Does (Romney) support the law as it was drafted in Arizona?
GORKA: "The governor supports the right of states, that's all we're going to say on this issue."
QUESTION: Does he have a position on the law, or no position?
GORKA: "The governor has his own immigration policy that he laid out in Orlando and in the primary which he would implement as president which would address this issue. Whereas Obama has had four years in the office and has yet to address it in a meaningful way."
QUESTION: But 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 does he think about the law in Arizona? You're just talking about the states' 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 wouldn't be necessary."
QUESTION: Is it fair to say that he has no opinion on the Arizona law?
GORKA: "Look, again, I'll 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."
QUESTION: You're not answering - what does he think about the policy in Arizona? Is it fair to say he has no opinion? You're refusing to give us an answer.
GORKA: "Arizona, like many other states in this nation, take it upon themselves to craft policies for their own specific states. Governor has said repeatedly that states are a laboratory of democracy, what one state crafts may not work in others but ultimately this, again, goes back to the president failing to deliver on his campaign promises. As candidate Obama, he said he would address immigration in the first year and hasn't and instead put in a stopgap measure four and a half months before the election.
QUESTION: The statement that Mitt Romney released this morning doesn't say one way or another whether he agrees with the Supreme Court decision. Does he have a reaction as to whether he agrees with this decision?
GORKA: Again, Jim. The states have the right to craft their immigration policy when the federal government has failed to do so.
QUESTION: But the Supreme Court just said three out of four of those, the states didn't have the right to do that, so how does that square with the governor's statement?
GORKA: States have the right to craft their own immigration policies….and those [inaudible] went through the process.
QUESTION: But we don't have a statement one way or the other whether he agrees with this decision today by the Supreme Court-the statement itself doesn't say.
GORKA: This country would be better served if the president wasn't suing states but the president was actually fulfilling his campaign promises to enact an immigration policy.