The Obama campaign is keeping its sights aimed at Mitt Romney, with a conference call with reporters Wednesday slamming Romney for attacking Newt Gingrich’s positions on immigration reform in the debate Tuesday night.
Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) said: “I think we’re all profoundly disappointed by Mitt Romney’s comments in the debate, where he chastised former Speaker Newt Gingrich about his statement that this country should have a humane immigration policy, and that we ought to have the policy that takes into consideration not separating families, not discriminating against children by not educating them.
“And he was taken to task, I thought pretty severely by Mitt Romney - the same individual that has had multiple positions throughout his different campaigns.
“In one of the campaigns, he actually supported the proposal by Sen. Kennedy and Sen. McCain, but in today’s political climate he feels he needs to oppose any kind of humane policy — no matter how it betrays the legacy of our nation. We were created by immigrants, and we’ve got a long and storied history of the role that immigrants have played in our country as it develops.”
(Technically, Romney favored the McCain-Kennedy proposals in 2005 and early 2006 — when he was not on the ballot in any race that year, but was preparing to run for president. By early 2007, he opposed it.)
Later, during the Q&A, Reyes remarked: “I think basically Governor Romney gives flip floppers a bad rap. I don’t think we really know what his position may or not be. I certainly have doubts about what he really stands for. And part of what’s disturbing is, he’s the one who has had to endure the attacks on his religion. And for him to now take this kind of position is incredibly perplexing. I don’t understand where he’s coming from. I don’t understand what he’s trying to accomplish by doing these kinds of things, such as attacking immigration policy. I don’t know where his values are.”
Later on in the Q&A, TPM asked Reyes what the comparison would be, between the attacks on Romney’s religion, and his hard line on immigration.
“Well I think what has been clear has been - and regrettably it happened here in Texas - his religion was attacked as being more of a cult, or at least people referring to it as cult-like,” said Reyes. “So my point was, being subjected to intolerance like that about his own religion, to me you would think that he would be — in terms of his policies and in terms of his positions — would take a more tolerant view of what Gingrich was trying to promote, and that was a humane immigration policy. And that’s what I meant by that.”
Also on the call was Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX), who is the current chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Gonzalez said that the stance Gingrich advanced last night was on its face “correct” — but also said that Gingrich, like many Republicans in Gonzalez’s home state of Texas, is also pushing back by emphasizing the need to heighten border security: “And that’s where you’ll see Gingrich kind of walking back from what would be a reasonable position.”
“If former Speaker Gingrich wants to help, I’ll give him my phone number,” Gonzalez quipped, “and I’ll give him the names of some Republicans that we need for support on comprehensive immigration legislation.”
He also added: “I think right now, on the altar of political expediency, you’re gonna see all the candidates — my prediction is you will even see Speaker Gingrich walk back from what was a reasonable presentation in the debate.”
Gonzalez also accused Romney of trying to “out-pander” the competition: “So where he ends up, Heaven knows. But he’s going to allow that to dictate the positions he will take. Whether he was for it or against it in the past, it will not matter. I think he will do what is necessary to protect his frontrunner status. At some point you’ve got to say enough is enough, but I don’t think so.”