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Pawlenty Becomes Latest Republican Afraid To Take A Clear Position On AZ Anti-Immigration Law

Caught between their anti-immigrant right-wing base and Latino voters, many Republicans have been reluctant to praise or directly criticize Arizona’s controversial immigration bill. In his effort to address this quandary, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) recently dodged the question of whether he supports or opposes the bill, calling it “a false choice.”

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) is the latest top GOP figure to punt. Today on ABC’s Top Line, the Minnesota governor refused to say whether he’d sign a similar bill in his state:

KLEIN: In its current form, if the legislature in Minnesota presented that to you, is that something you’d be comfortable with signing?

PAWLENTY: Well we need to be a nation that values legal immigration. It needs to be legal and reasonable and orderly. Our current system is none of that. It is chaotic. It is disorderly and much of it is illegal and so our country has to do a much better job at enforcing –

When host Rick Klein asked again if he supports the bill, Pawlenty just repeated his desire for “stronger enforcement.” Watch it:

Some Republicans have stepped up and criticized the overreaching law and many media conservatives appear more free to lash out, with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, for example, calling it “un-American.”

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But Pawlenty — a potential candidate for president in 2012 — appears to be sticking to his dodge-and-ignore strategy. In a separate interview with the Daily Caller, he defended the law, but at the same time, wouldn’t say whether it is constitutional. “I think what you’re seeing here is a frustration by Arizona, an understandable frustration, that their concerns haven’t been addressed by the federal government,” he said, adding, “As to the constitutionality of it, that will be decided by the courts shortly.”