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Santorum: Romney 'Trying to Walk a Line' on Immigration Santorum: Romney 'Trying to Walk a Line' on Immigration Santorum: Romney 'Trying to Walk a Line' on Immigration Santorum: Romney 'Trying ...

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / SUNDAY SHOWS

Santorum: Romney 'Trying to Walk a Line' on Immigration

photo of Alexandra  Jaffe
June 17, 2012

Rick Santorum on Sunday gave a lukewarm defense of Mitt Romney's response to the White House policy shift on immigration, asserting that Romney was trying to "walk a line" on immigration. The former GOP presidential candidate said Romney had addressed the substance rather than the process of the decision -- though the latter, said Santorum, is the more "outrageous."

"[Romney]'s trying to walk a line as not to sound like he's hostile to Latinos -- and [voters in] very important states -- but at the same time, I think you need to hammer the president on this now-habitual abuse of power," he said on CNN's State of the Union.

Santorum's comments highlight the significant boost that the policy shift likely will give Obama among Latino voters, a key constituency. Many on the right have slammed Obama for the change in policy, calling it a political ploy in an election year.

But it's clear that the issue holds political peril for Romney, who stayed largely silent after Obama's announcement. Romney sayid only that he agrees with Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio -- who has been working on his own immigration reform bill that would accomplish essentially the same thing as Obama's policy shift -- and believes the nation needs a long-term fix, not just a short-term patch.

Santorum said that the administration's decision to no longer deport certain illegal immigrants was just one example of a long line of abuses of power by President Obama, whom he accused "selectively enforc[ing]" the law. The former GOP candidate cited the administration's refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court as another example.

"There is a difference of saying, 'I don't like the law and I wish that the law were different, but I'm the president and my job is to faithfully execute.' And he is not faithfully executing," Santorum said.

Santorum also talked politics, responding to Jeb Bush's assertion that the GOP is currently too extreme for moderates like his father and Ronald Reagan with the claim that the definition of "moderate" in Washington is all wrong.

"Willing to work for the other side in this town means doing what the other side wants only doing it slower, instead of doing what is necessary for this country, which is scaling back government," he said.

That latter philosophy, Santorum said, is why he's backed Dan Liljenquist in Utah over his former colleague, Sen. Orrin Hatch. The tendency toward accepting Democratic ideas, Santorum said, is also partly why his other former colleague, Richard Lugar, lost his GOP primary in Indiana.

"We need people who say that [growing government] is the wrong direction. We need a fundamentally new way of looking at things in Washington," Santorum said.

 

Santorum also said that the question of whether he would serve in a Romney administration is "pretty much a flat no," saying he instead would focus on his family.

"It's not because I don't want to help Governor Romney -- I don't want to be a part of ... him having a successful presidency. It's just, for me, it's a matter of my priorities and my time of being a husband and father and I sort of have to take care of them."

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