President Obama’s campaign Tuesday pounced on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to comment on the Obama administration’s move to relax deportation laws for the children of illegal immigrants until presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney explains his position.
Obama on Friday announced that the Department of Homeland Security would not seek to deport up to 800,000 children of illegal immigrants and instead would offer them temporary work permits. Asked about the announcement on Tuesday afternoon, McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, told reporters he was taking a “wait and see” approach on the new policy until Romney expressed his view.
”I think we’re going to wait and see what Gov.Romney has to say, and then our members are going to be discussing his views on this, and I think many of them will have similar views. Others may not,” McConnell said.
”The reaction from Democrats was swift as they sought to capitalize on McConnell’s hesitancy and Romney’s failure to take a stand on Obama’s new policy.
”McConnell says he’s waiting for Romney to lay out his position on immigration. Have a seat, Mitch. This could take awhile!” Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said on Twitter.
”I can’t imagine that he’s going to get an answer very soon,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said of McConnell. “Romney’s had four or five days, and he was asked four different times on the [Bob] Schieffer program ["Face the Nation"] this weekend what he wanted to do, and he wouldn’t answer.”
It is not the first time members of Romney’s own party have hurt their nominee by calling attention to his oft-criticized handling of the immigration issue.
Last month Bettina Inclan, the Hispanic outreach director for the Republican National Committee, made a comment that her bosses quickly tried to “walk back.”
”As a candidate, to my understanding, he’s still deciding what his position on immigration is,” Inclan said at a press event in Washington.
Minutes later, Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski tried to downplay Inclan’s comments, claiming that “we never said the governor hasn’t decided on immigration.”
Now, once again, Republicans may have to play damage control, and, once again, they only have themselves to blame.
Matthew Jaffe is covering the 2012 campaign for ABC News and Univision.