As Mitt Romney pivots to the general election and tries to close his big deficit with Latino voters, his campaign spent this week apparently backtracking on two key aspects of its controversial immigration policy. But it now appears to have come back full circle to its original positions.
First, the campaign tried to distance itself from controversial immigration activist Kris Kobach, the author of Arizona and Alabama’s harsh anti-immigration laws. Romney had touted Kobach as an informal adviser, but this week said he was merely a “supporter” not an “adviser.” ThinkProgress and others spoke with Kobach, who disputed the claim and said he was still advising the campaign, but nonetheless Romney’s staff again stood by their initial statement.
But today, a spokesperson agreed in an email to CNN that Kobach is indeed an “informal adviser.”
Secondly, the Romney campaign asserted that when the presumed presidential nominee said during a Republican primary debate that Arizona is “a model,” he was referring to the state’s E-Verify law, not its anti-immigration law, the Kobach-backed SB-1070.
But newly-confirmed immigration adviser Kobach disputed this as well. “He stated very publicly that Arizona’s law should be a model for how the federal government enforces its immigration laws. And he’s correct there too,” Kobach told CNN of SB-1070. Indeed, Romney’s “self-deportation” policy shares the same basic approach as Arizona’s law.
Kobach went on to say that he doesn’t expect Romney — who had the harshest immigration policy of any Republican presidential candidate — to moderate his stances at all when facing President Obama. “I think it would be unusual for a national presidential candidate to back away from statements he’s made in debates and he hasn’t shown any sign of doing so,” Kobach said.
Indeed, it will be very hard for Romney, whose PAC was one of the largest donors to Kobach’s campaign for Kansas Secretary of State, to distance himself from his immigration adviser or the law in Arizona.