(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) — Mitt Romney told donors at a fundraising lunch today that he wished the Supreme Court had given, “more latitude to the states, not less” in its ruling on Arizona’s immigration law and characterized the situation as a “muddle.”
“Now you probably heard today there was a Supreme Court decision relating to immigration and, you know, given the failure of the immigration policy in this country, I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states not less,” said Romney, in his first public statement on this morning’s Supreme Court ruling. “And there are states now under this decision have less authority, less latitude, to enforce immigration laws.”
Romney, speaking to a group of about 200 donors at a fundraising luncheon at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, still did not specify whether he agreed with the state’s controversial immigration law or even parts of it.
“And it’s really — it’s become a muddle,” said Romney, who earlier today released a paper statement on the court’s ruling. “But it didn’t have to be this way. The president promised in his campaign that in his first year he would take on immigration and solve our immigration challenges, put in place a long term program to care for those that want to come here legally, to deal with illegal immigration, to deal with securing our borders.”
“All these things he was going to in his first year. He had a Democrat House and a Democrat Senate, but he didn’t do it. Isn’t it time for the American people to ask him: Why?” Romney asked, to a heavy applause by the audience.
“And because he didn’t act, states and localities have tried to act and now the courts trying to get into it and sort things out and it’s a muddle,” Romney continued. “Why? Why didn’t he do it? Why has he been there three and a half years and no one has called him to task for not answering that question? Why, Mr. President, did you not do what you said you’d do? You had a Democrat House, a Democrat Senate — why didn’t you reform immigration or at least propose something?”
“Why, Mr. President, why have you failed to lead? It’s only one more place where he’s failed to lead,” said Romney, before shifting to describe his own intentions, if elected.
“One thing I can tell you, if I’m President of the United States, I will lead,” said Romney. “I will lead on this issue, among others. In my first year I will make sure we actually do take on immigration, we secure our border, we make sure that we grow legal immigration in a way that provides people here with skill and expertise that we want. This is an issue that has to be tackled, I will tackle it, not with stop-gap measures but with the kind of work that’s done across the aisle by people of good faith.”
An aide to Romney’s campaign refused earlier in the day to specify whether Romney agrees with the Arizona law or not.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jennifer Rizzo, CNN
Tom Kludt and Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Jim Acosta and Greg Clary, CNN