Romney Wants It His (?) Way

22 Jun

Romney has repeatedly used immigration as a wedge on the campaign trail. (Reuters At least this is a weak indication of a semblance of some sort of message.

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to tone down his statements heralding improvements in the state’s economy because they clash with the presumptive Republican nominee’s message that the nation is suffering under President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Scott, a Republican, was asked to say that the state’s jobless rate could improve faster under a Romney presidency, according to the people, who asked not to be named.

What’s unfolding in Florida highlights a dilemma for the Romney campaign: how to allow Republican governors to take credit for economic improvements in their states while faulting Obama’s stewardship of the national economy. Republican governors in Ohio, Virginia, Michigan and Wisconsin also have highlighted improving economies.

Scott should follow the advice of the Romney campaign and it won’t undermine his own message, said Mac Stipanovich, a political strategist and lobbyist in Florida.

“This is one of those situations where you could have it both ways and there’s enough truth in it that it would resonate,” Stipanovich said. “It would be better if everybody was singing from the same hymnal.”

This “my way or nothing” approach epitomizes a campaign based on Romney’s desperately ambitious ego and not much else. Obviously, Florida’s former governor, Jeb Bush, doesn’t get the same whiphand.

The follow-up act might have been unfair to Romney. After all, Bush was one of the most popular political figures ever in Florida among Hispanic voters.

Yet, anticipating Bush following Romney to the podium (with several speakers appearing in between,) some NALEO attendees said they expected that Bush might give Romney’s Hispanic street creds a badly-needed boost,by offering a full-throated endorsement of the Massachusetts governor’s ideas or policies.

It didn’t happen. While Bush did call Romney’s speech “excellent,” he opened by spending as much time talking graciously about Democratic President Barack Obama.

Bush spent almost all of his speech talking about his passion since leaving office – education reform. In his opening remarks, he reserved a few seconds for Romney and Obama.

In that speech, Romney failed to impress a captive Republican crowd.

Mr. Romney, who has refused to say whether he would overturn a policy announced last week by President Obama that would stop the deportation of some illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children, again sidestepped that question.

“Some people have asked if I will let stand the president’s executive action,” he said. “The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure.”

Even as he started speaking, Mr. Romney’s campaign released an outline of his plan, which would include giving green cards to immigrants who earn advanced degrees at American universities; providing a path to legal status for illegal immigrants who serve in the military; and cutting red tape.

“As president, I will stand for a path to legal status for anyone who is willing to stand up and defend this great nation through military service,” Mr. Romney said.

The nearly twenty-minute speech was met with tepid applause and moments of pointed silence. He seemed to hit his stride near the middle of his remarks, when he talked about balancing the budget, giving parents a choice of where to send their children to school, and providing a path to legal status for immigrants who have served in the military. At the end, about half the room stood up to applaud.

So, there it is, buried in a performance that was upstaged by another governor, whom many Republicans would prefer as a candidate to Romney. As long as an immigrant is willing to go into debt getting an advanced degree, or serve in the military, he or she can get a green card, but his or her children might not have a chance for a decent public education. Second thoughts – stick with the “Obama is the Bad Guy!” message.

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