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UPDATE: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney refused to say whether he’d overturn President Obama’s new policy that would effectively allow some young illegal immigrants to remain in the United States without fear of deportation. And he certainly got the chance. In what Politico describes as a “rare non-Fox News national TV interview” Bob Scieffer of CBS’s Face the Nation directly asked Romney five times whether he would backtrack on Obama’s decision if he is elected to the White House.
Romney didn’t quite criticize the decision by Obama to stop the deportations of approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants, but rather his method for going about it, calling it a “stop-gap measure” that was motivated by politics. “I think the timing is pretty clear. If he really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with illegal immigration in America, then this is something he would have taken up in his first three and a half years, not in his last few months,” Romney said.
Romney emphasized to CBS News that “a long-term solution” is needed for those who were “brought in by their parents through no fault of their own … so they know what their status is.” The president's order would be “overtaken by events, if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution,” he said.
Yet despite his emphasis on the need for a “long-term” solution, Romney gave no details on what the plan would actually entail, notes Univision.
The Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo notes that Romney “has a more nuanced immigration stance these days” that could be summarized with the acronym WWRD: “What would Rubio Do?” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the only Hispanic Republican in the Senate and a rumored contender for the vice-presidential slot, was the first to characterize Obama’s announcement as “a short term answer to a long term problem.” Romney quickly picked up that same message, notes Caputo.
Obama adviser David Plouffe was the one in charge of pushing the White House stance on four Sunday talk shows, emphasized that “this was not a political move,” noting that it “builds on a lot of steps that we’ve already taken,” reports Reuters. Plouffe noted that the decision means that immigration enforcement can focus “on criminals, those that cuase or can endanger our community.” Plouffe acknowledged the move was only a temporary solution, noting that a permanent fix was needed through the DREAM Act, which Romney opposes.
Obama’s move put on display “one of the great strengths of presidential incumbency: the ability to change the campaign conversation in an instant,” writes Mark Z. Barabak in the Los Angeles Times.
Saturday, June 16 at 5:15 p.m.: Speaking to religious conservatives on Saturday, Mitt Romney harshly criticized President Obama’s stance on Israel, saying he's more afraid of a potential Israeli attack on Iran than the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon, reports the Los Angeles Times. When he was asked what he would do to strengthen relations with Israel, Romney ridiculed Obama’s stance: “I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite.”
In speaking to the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference in Washington, D.C., Romney moved away from his usual speech on the economy and jobs to touch on a few controversial social issues. While evangelical voters are unlikely to support Obama, Romney needs to make sure they don’t sit out the election, points out Reuters.
Saturday, June 16 at 3:34 p.m.: Mitt Romney tried to shift attention back to economic issues Saturday, in an attempt to turn the spotlight away from President Barack Obama the day after he unveiled a new immigration policy, reports the Guardian.
“Last time around, as you recall, his campaign slogan was hope and change,” Romney said, according to ABC News. “Now I think he’d like to change it to ‘hoping to change the subject.’ He’s not wanting to talk about the economy like I want to talk to the economy.”
His words Saturday were just the latest example of how Romney has become the “play-it-safe candidate,” sticking to jobs and the economy at every campaign stop, points out the Associated Press. Obama is the one taking risks, in part because there’s little he can do to improve the economy from now until Election Day.
Many are characterizing Obama’s announcement that young people who were born abroad and brought into the country illegally won’t have to worry about deportation as a smart move to fire up his base and a key voting constituency. It could also backfire, giving conservatives who were struggling to get excited about a Romney presidency a reason to actively work against the president’s re-election bid, writes the Hill.
Yet the risks are likely worthwhile. Just like he did last month when he expressed support for gay marriage, Obama used presidential power to advocate for something that would please one of his key 2008 constituencies that had grown disenchanted with his administration, points out Politico. Obama already had a wide lead among Hispanics, but the the policy change could fire up Hispanic voters to go to the polls in several key swing states where turnout is critical, notes the Hill.