Less than a week ago, Fred Barnes, a prominent Republican insider in DC, wrote, "According to a Romney adviser, his private view of immigration isn't as anti-immigrant as he often sounded."
It was the first big hint that the campaign was already poised to shake the Etch A Sketch in a big way. After all, if Romney's "private" views are at odds with what Romney has been saying in public, the presumptive Republican would stand poised to reinvent his persona all over again.
Today, the campaign was even less subtle.
Como se dice "Etch a Sketch" en espanol?Over the weekend, I noticed that Kris Kobach, Mitt Romney's unpaid immigration adviser -- and the inspiration for Romney's "voluntary deportation" strategy – wasn't included in a fairly comprehensive Boston Globe rundown of staff, advisers and the kitchen cabinet types.When I asked Boston if Kobach was still an "adviser," a Romney spokesperson emailed back: "supporter."
Look, this is just silly. Kobach himself has boasted, on the record, "I have advised Romney directly, and his close team around him," on immigration policy. He's also said, "Comparing my involvement from 2008 to 2012, I've been much more involved" with Romney's campaign. Talking to reporters at CPAC, Kobach also bragged that he interacts with Romney's staff on a regular basis.
Those comments came in February; perhaps his role as part of Team Romney has diminished since? Actually, Kobach told ThinkProgress today, "No, my relationship with the campaign has not changed. Still doing the same thing I was doing before." And what might that entail? He added he's still "providing advice on immigration policy," and communicating "regularly with senior members of Romney's team."
I can appreciate why the Romney campaign is scrambling -- polls show large numbers of Latino voters repulsed by Romney's anti-immigrant policies, and the fact that he pals around with Kris Kobach, the architect of harsh, right-wing immigration measures, only reinforces why so many in the Latino community won't even consider backing the presumptive Republican nominee.
But this isn't a problem Romney can just flip-flop out of. He locked arms with Kobach to make the GOP's anti-immigrant base happy, and after having jumped off that cliff, it's too late to climb back up.