Now that he’s made the “mistake” of supporting legal status for immigrants who have been here 25 years, Newt Gingrich is desperately trying to avoid becoming an asterisk on the Republican nomination battle, so he’s taken to Twitter to accuse Mitt Romney of flip-flopping by linking to this video of Mitt Romney on Meet the Press in December of 2007:
ROMNEH: My own view is, consistent with what you saw in the Lowell Sun, that those people who have come here illegally, and are in this country, the 12 million or so that are here illegally, should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship…
I’m no fan of Mitt Romney and I’d love to say that this video represents a clean hit, but it’s not. It cuts Romney off in mid-thought, and the completion of his thought makes it clear that Romney also said he supports forcing the “great majority” of undocumented immigrants to return “home.”
[B]ut they should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to say here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally. And that, I think, is the great flaw in the final bill that came forward from the Senate.
MR. RUSSERT: But they shouldn’t have to go home?
ROMNEY: Well, whether they go home–they should go home eventually. There’s a set per–in my view they should be–they should have a set period during which period they, they sign up for application for permanent residency or, or for citizenship. But there’s a set period where upon they should return home. And if they’ve been approved for citizenship or for a permanent residency, well, thy would be a different matter. But for the great majority, they’ll be going home.
MR. RUSSERT: The children they had born here are U.S. citizens, so do the children stay here and the parents go home?
ROMNEY: Well, that’s a choice, of course, the parents would, would make. But my view is that those 12 million who’ve come here illegally should be given the opportunity to sign up to stay here, but they should not be given any advantage in becoming a permanent resident or citizen by virtue of simply coming here illegally.
Rather than showing Mitt Romney flip-flopped from 2007 to 2011, what this video actually shows is that Mitt Romney has consistently tried to have it both ways on immigration.
Out of one side of his mouth, he says that he supports a pathway to legal status and citizenship. That’s designed to please the 70 percent of Americans who favor comprehensive immigration reform. From the other side of his mouth, he says he wants to force virtually all undocumented immigrants to leave the country before they can return. That’s designed to please the 10 percent or 20 percent of voters who will cast votes in the Republican primary. But the truth is you can’t have it both ways: It makes absolutely no sense to kick people out of the country as part of the process of inviting them to stay.
Romney’s fence-straddling continued last night, when he specifically refused to take a position on how his immigration proposal would work, saying “I’m not going to start drawing lines here about who gets to stay and who get to go.” And until he actually makes it clear what he’s for, it’d be pretty hard to argue that he flip-flopped … because before you can flip-flop, you need to take a position.