CPAC — Controversial Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told me Saturday that rumors of the Mitt Romney campaign trying to put him on the back burner are total hooey.
Kobach — best known as author of the Arizona immigration law and often referred to as the physical embodiment of why it will be hard for Romney to reach out to the Latino vote this fall — told me that his role with the Romney campaign is actually bigger this year than it was in 2008, when Kobach signed on to the Romney campaign as an immigration adviser.
“Comparing my involvement from 2008 to 2012, I’ve been much more involved,” Kobach told me and several other reporters in a press gaggle following his appearance on an immigration panel at CPAC. He said he interacts with Romney’s staff regularly.
You wouldn’t know that from the way the Romney campaign’s handled his role this time around. Kobach got a shout-out in a press release when he endorsed Romney, but the campaign didn’t pump out that he was again acting as an adviser. When reporters tried to talk to the Romney campaign about his role last month, they got radio silence for the most part.
Kobach said the fact that the campaign didn’t want to talk about him doesn’t mean a thing.
“I think you’ll find that most presidential campaigns are kind of hard for reporters to get to comment on all of their various endorsers,” Kobach said. “So the notion that a reporter doesn’t get a phone call returned, shouldn’t be taken as an implication of much of anything, really.”
He said there was a simple explanation for why he was publicly touted by Team Romney as an adviser in the 2008 press release but not in the 2012 statement. Kobach suggested that labeling him an ‘advisor’ in 2008 and not in 2012 was more a testament to his relative anonymity back in 2008 than his controversial profile today.
“I think you’re right; I think there was a release calling me an adviser and here I’m an endorser,” Kobach told me. “Probably because I didn’t hold any office [back then] and being endorsed by a law professor in 2008 is probably not all that exciting.”
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Kobach’s characterization of his role as adviser.
This post was updated with some copy edits after it was posted.