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Mitt Romney and Kris Kobach: Whose Pants are On Fire?

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The relationship status between Mitt Romney and Kris Kobach remains complicated.

Romney claimed yesterday that he has “not met” with Kobach, the infamous architect of the “show me your papers” immigration approach that forms the heart of the Arizona and Alabama state laws, as well as Romney’s articulated “self-deportation” vision for immigration policy.

Despite Romney’s claims yesterday, Kobach is singing a different tune about his relationship with the Republican presidential nominee.  As Ed Pilkington wrote in The Guardian in February 2012,:

Kris Kobach, the source of some of Romney’s most controversial ideas on immigration, has told the Guardian that he has been in direct discussions with the presidential candidate about possible changes to federal policy should Romney win the Republican nomination and go on to take the White House.

Pilkington then quotes Kobach saying:

I have advised Romney directly, and his close team around him, that attrition through enforcement has been working, that self-deportation has been observed in Arizona and Alabama, and that this really does need to be part of our national effort.

Romney and the Republican Party’s transparent attempt to distance themselves from Kobach also rings false in light of their earlier rhetoric about Kobach – and Kobach’s continued prominence within the party.  For example, upon accepting Kobach’s endorsement this past January, Romney’s campaign issued a statement attributed to Romney that read:

I’m so proud to earn Kris’s support…Kris has been a true leader on securing our borders and stopping the flow of illegal immigration into this country.  We need more conservative leaders like Kris willing to stand up for the rule of law.  With Kris on the team, I look forward to working with him to take forceful steps to curtail illegal immigration and to support states like South Carolina and Arizona that are stepping forward to address this problem.

Additionally, Kobach’s prominence in Romney’s GOP is underscored by his role in authoring the majority of the 2012 RNC party platform’s hardline immigration agenda.  At the time, Kobach said of the immigration positions outlined in the platform:

These positions are consistent with the Romney campaign…As you all remember, one of the primary reasons that Governor Romney rose past Governor Perry when Mr. Perry was achieving first place in the polls was because of his opposition to in-state tuition for illegal aliens.

Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

While we’ll leave it up to Romney and Kobach to sort out their relationship, their competing claims open up one of them to a ‘pants on fire’ charge. The question about Romney and Kobach’s relationship extends well beyond who met with who or not. It goes directly to the important issues about what type of immigration policy a President Romney would put in place.