DES MOINES, Iowa -- Despite a newly launched attack by President Obama’s reelection campaign, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney continued to take a hard line on illegal immigration on Wednesday, saying that people in the country illegally deserve no “special pathway” to legal status. He also defended a potentially deceptive advertisement his campaign is running in New Hampshire, saying an accompanying press release explained the ad's meaning.
Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday that Romney is pandering to right-wing conservatives by opposing all forms of amnesty. He was referring to Romney’s comments at Tuesday night’s GOP candidate debate in which he criticized rival Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker, for proposing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have been in the country for many years.
Talking with reporters at a campaign event on Wednesday, Romney said: “People who’ve come to the country illegally should not have a special pathway that is preferable to those that stand in line in their home countries to be able to come to this country. They should not have a special preference with regard to becoming a permanent resident or citizen.”
Romney said he would lay out a more comprehensive position on the problem of illegal immigration later in the campaign.
He also responded to criticism that an ad he is airing in New Hampshire deceptively quotes Obama as saying during the 2008 campaign, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” Obama was actually quoting an adviser to opponent John McCain.
Romney seemed to suggest that a press release sent out when the ad was unveiled absolved his campaign of any responsibility if viewers interpret the remarks incorrectly. “Well, actually, the ad, before it went up, was sent out with press releases describing that what the president has said about John McCain was now going to be used to be said about him.
"There was no hidden effort on the part of our campaign. It was instead to point out that what’s sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander. He spoke about the economy being a huge burden for John McCain. This ad points out: 'Hey, guess what? It’s now your turn. The same lines you used against John McCain are now going to be on you, which is, this economy is going to be your albatross.' "
However, people viewing the ad on television would have no access to the press release unless they looked it up on online news websites or Romney’s campaign website.