Another Day, Another Romney Flip-Flop Surfaces: Updated

Mitt Romney has been knocking other GOP candidates for being soft on illegal immigration as if his record on the issue is pristine.  It’s anything but, of course, and today Newt Gingrich called him out on his shameless hypocrisy.  Reuters has more:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was accused on Wednesday of flip-flopping for comments he made in 2007 indicating he was open to a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Romney’s remarks, made on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when he was a candidate for president, were circulated by rival Newt Gingrich’s campaign the day after the former Speaker of the House of Representatives came under similar fire for suggesting during a debate Tuesday night that he was in favor of such a pathway for immigrants.

Opponents of a pathway, a large swath of the early-voting Republican electorate, have branded the proposal as equal to an amnesty for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.

Conservative Republican voters in early-voting states like Iowa have demonstrated little patience for candidates or office-holders who are receptive to any plans that would grant citizenship to illegal immigrants.

The Gingrich campaign noted that during the 2007 interview, Romney said “that those people who had come here illegally and are in this country, the 12 million or so that are here illegally, should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship.”

Ace wonders if Romney’s incessant flip-flopping on practically every issue under the sun (other than his position that a government mandate for private citizens to purchase a health insurance policy is a fine idea) means he believes the Republican electorate is stupid:

But there’s a real shamelessness here that gets off-putting.  It’s just not very honest for Romney to be so hard-charging as a Tough on Immigrants Sheriff Joe type.

There comes a point at which it does seem that he believes us to be stupid, or needs us to be stupid, at least.

I waver between thinking Romney’s aggression and shamelessness are actually useful tools in the toolbox — could use some of that against Obama — and thinking they’re liabilities.  Sometimes stuff like this begins to undercut the central argument in favor of Romney — he’s smart, disciplined, and competent.

If he’s making attacks like this, shamelessly ignoring his own past… well, is he those things?

Romney not only thinks we’re stupid, but his entire campaign for the nomination depends on it. Fortunately for him (and unfortunately for conservatives), enough Republicans may well be for him to win the nomination, and thus guarantee another four years of Obama.  When asked about this latest in a long line of Romney flip-flops, the Mittster’s campaign claimed he was taken out of context. Natch:

The Romney campaign suggested that Gingrich was using the quote out of context.

Really?  Let’s go to the video, shall we:

What, precisely, was taken out of context? It sure sounded to me like the Mittster said that, in his view “those people who had come here illegally and are in this country, the 12 million or so that are here illegally, should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship.” Did I hear that wrong? To be sure, Newt’s position on immigration has been occasionally shaky, but then he isn’t the one running around the country pretending to be Sheriff Joe.

Update: Classic Mitt. In the comments, C4P’s Mary Beth House uncovered the rest of the Mittster’s comments on this issue from that Meet the Press moment in 2007:

“My own view is, consistent with what you saw in the Lowell Sun, that those people who had come here illegally and are in this country, the 12  million or so that are here illegally, should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship, but they should not be given  a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to stay here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally, and that, I think, is the great flaw in the final bill that came forward from the Senate.

Heh. The 12 million illegals “should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship” but “shouldn’t be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to stay here for the rest of their lives”.  Er…what? How is allowing illegals to sign up for “permanent residency or citizenship”, which Mitt is in favor of, different from giving them a special pathway to stay here for the rest of their lives, which Mitt claims he’s against a bit later in the same sentence.  And Team Mitt is trying to make the case that this is evidence Newt took him out of context? How? Because he flip-flopped again a second or two later?  Usually when slick politicians atttempt to have it both ways, they at least wait a day or two until they’re with a different audience.  But not the Mittster.  Mary Beth had her own take on Mitt’s BS:

What I’m not entirely sure of though is how this makes everything better.  He supports citizenship for some illegals…just not a special path to get there?  Well…what does that mean?  If they wanted to be citizens, there’s a process for that.

Further, Newt does not support citizenship for those allowed to stay under the process he proposed…and Mitt does…which was Newt’s point.  Newt does propose to put these folks on the books without them getting citizenship.

I’m starting to think if Newt laid a briar patch trap for Mitt and he fell right in…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Obama and his billion dollars will have a field day with this kind of mindless nonsense, even if most of Mitt’s Republican rivals look the other way.  Obama won’t.

Update II: (h/t BostonBruin) Mary Beth wondered if Newt had set a trap for Romney (see above).  William Jacobsen, at Legal Insurrection, had the same thought:

…Newt’s statement caused the Romney campaign to engage in hyperbole, accusing Newt of wanting amnesty for 10 million people.  This exposed key weaknesses in Romney’s claim to the presidency.

First, Romney has been in favor of a pathway to citizenship for illegals, which is more than Newt proposed at the debate which was limited to deportation policy.  Romney ran to the right, but it was not credible.  This reminded everyone of Romney’s “core” weakness.

Second, and equally important, Romney has no answer on deportation policy.  This resulted in the ”Abbott and Costello” routine I highlighted yesterday, in which Romney’s spokesperson could not or would not say that Romney would deport everyone here illegally, even those brought here as young children.  While attacking the humanitarian standards on deportation policy proposed by Newt, Romney had no alternative.  Not a good showing.

In the end, Newt was shown to be someone willing to make hard choices even if it cost him votes and to do so with realism.  Romney was shown to be just the opposite.

It dont’ know if Newt set a trap.  But the Romney campaign found itself stuck, either way.  Newt comes across looking presidential, Romney comes across looking like a politician.



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