Romney Says Obama Has Failed On Immigration

After the Supreme Court released its decision on the Arizona immigration law, Mitt Romney's campaign released a statement in which the former Massachusetts governor accused President Obama of a failure of leadership on immigration. Romney was in Arizona today for a fundraiser. All Things Considered host Audie Cornish talks with NPR's Mara Liasson.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Mitt Romney was actually in Arizona today. He held fundraisers but no public events. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson joins us now to talk about him. Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.

CORNISH: So, how did the Romney campaign respond to today's Supreme Court decision on the Arizona immigration law?

LIASSON: Well, Mitt Romney said he would have preferred that the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states in its ruling. He said now the law has become a muddle. Before he spoke at that fundraiser in Arizona, his campaign issued a statement attacking the president for not passing comprehensive immigration reform.

And one of his press aides gave a very long, kind of strange briefing to traveling reporters. It was kind of a name, rank and serial number briefing, where he repeated over and over again that the governor supports the states' rights to craft their own immigration laws, even though the Court had just said that they didn't. And he just said that over and over and over again. So, this is really a problem for Governor Romney.

CORNISH: Mara, how much of a problem is it for Romney looking at his past statements on immigration and his position today or as sort of people have been analyzing it now?

LIASSON: Well, during the primaries, he turned hard right on immigration. He really used the issue as a battering ram against his opponents, particularly Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. He said he wouldn't have brought the suit that President Obama brought. He would veto the DREAM Act that allows some young people to stay in this country. He really was very harsh on this issue.

Now, he's changing his tone and he's walking a very fine line between appealing to Hispanics and not angering the GOP base, many of whom believe that any softening of the immigration laws amounts to amnesty. And that's going to cause a problem for him in states like Colorado and Nevada, which are battlegrounds, where he needs Hispanic votes. Now the Arizona law is popular with voters nationwide. But it is extremely unpopular with Hispanic voters.

CORNISH: NPR's Mara Liasson. Mara, thank you so much for talking with us.

LIASSON: Thank you, Audie.

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