Back in November, there was a fascinating exchange between Romney campaign spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom and Washington Examiner reporter Philip Klein about immigration. Asked what the candidate would do with the millions of undocumented immigrants who are already here, Fehrnstrom said, “He doesn’t believe in granting them amnesty.”
When Klein pressed further – acknowledging what Romney doesn’t believe in, but then asking what he does believe in – Fehrnstrom practically lost the ability to communicate in English.
Today, it happened all over again.
Mitt Romney released a statement earlier today emphasizing the right of states to enact immigration policies, but not actually commenting directly on the substance of today’s Supreme Court decision on the Arizona immigration law. Reporters sought to get more clarity from the campaign in a Q&A with traveling spokesman Rick Gorka, but to little avail.
The transcript is too long to republish here, but it’s a rather extraordinary read. Gorka, speaking on Romney’s behalf, heard reporters ask whether the candidate agrees or disagrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling, but went to extraordinary lengths to repeat superficial talking points, avoiding every question.
By one count, Romney’s overwhelmed spokesperson was asked literally 20 times what the candidate thought about today’s ruling, and literally 20 times, the spokesperson refused to say. Even Byron York called the evasion “excruciating,” which is as good an adjective as any.
Remember, all of this follows a press release this afternoon, in which Romney spent 104 words talking about the Supreme Court ruling without taking a position on it.
Cowardice is an unappealing character trait in a presidential campaign, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Romney, to borrow George Will’s line, “lacks the courage of his absence of convictions.”