Mitt Romney adopted a clever "strategic vagueness" strategy on yesterday's immigration ruling, which so far hasn't seemed to get anyone too angry at him (although I doubt it will do anything to stanch the bleeding of Latino votes away from him). As somebody tweeted yesterday, if you asked Romney what kind of pizza he wanted, he'd reply that Barack Obama has failed to lead on pizza choices. We've often talked about how uncomfortable Romney is when he gets questioned about his policy positions, but we should take a moment to extend our sympathies to the people who actually have to do most of the talking at times like this, the beleaguered campaign flaks whose job it is to say the things Mitt Romney would say if he were talking to reporters, and not say the things he wouldn't say. One of those flaks, Rick Gorka, found himself surrounded by reporters after the ruling and had to deliver one of the most painful dances of evasion you'll ever see. It went on and on, but here's a taste. You can almost see his soul slipping out of his body and finding an overhead bin to curl up in until it's all over:
QUESTION: Does (Romney) support the law as it was drafted in Arizona?
GORKA: "The governor supports the right of states, that's all we're going to say on this issue."
QUESTION: Does he have a position on the law, or no position?
GORKA: "The governor has his own immigration policy that he laid out in Orlando and in the primary, which he would implement as president which would address this issue. Whereas Obama has had four years in the office and has yet to address it in a meaningful way."
QUESTION: But does the Governor have a position on the Arizona law besides supporting the right of states?
GORKA: "This debate is sprung from the president failing to address this issue, so each state is left and has the power to draft and enact their own immigration policy."
QUESTION: But the Arizona law does very specific things, does the governor support those things that the Arizona law does?
GORKA: "We've addressed this."
QUESTION: What is his position on the actual law in Arizona?
GORKA: "Again, each state has the right within the Constitution to craft their own immigration laws since the federal government has failed."
QUESTION: But does he think about the law in Arizona? You're just talking about the states right to have a law but you're not giving any position on the actual law.
GORKA: "Ultimately this debate comes back down to the federal government and the president failing to address this. If the president followed through on his campaign promise to address illegal immigration in the first year, this debate wouldn¹t be necessary."
QUESTION: Is it fair to say that he has no opinion on the Arizona law?
GORKA: "Look, again, I¹ll say it again and again and again for you. The governor understands that states have their own right to craft policies to secure their own borders and to address illegal immigration."
QUESTION: You're not answering – what does he think about the policy in Arizona? Is it fair to say he has no opinion? You're refusing to give us an answer.
And as I said, that's only part of it. It's easy to think of spokespeople like Gorka as cynical liars and spin-spouting robots whose only purpose in life is to obfuscate and deceive. But nobody can actually enjoy that. I'm sure that he would have much rather delivered a forthright explanation of his candidate's clear and unambiguous position on the issue, but since his candidate has no such position, he was tasked with saying nothing, over and over, to a bunch of reporters who need him to say something in order to do their jobs, and so get increasingly frustrated and disgusted with him. It's not fun for anybody. But I guess if you get hired to be Mitt Romney's spokesperson, that's part of the deal.
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