Mitt Romney chided President Barack Obama for waiting so long to take action on immigration, and charged that the timing of the announcement to give amnesty to children of illegal immigrants is clearly political.
“He was president for the last three-and-a-half years did nothing on immigration. Two years he had a Democrat House and Senate and did nothing ever permanent or long-term basis,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation.”
Romney was interviewed while on the campaign trail in Lebanon, Penn.
“He should have worked on this years ago,” Romney said. “If he felt seriously about this he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate. But he didn’t.
“He saves these sort of things until four-and-a-half months before the general election,” Romney said. “I think the timing is pretty clear. If he really wanted a solution that dealt with these kids or illegal immigration in America, then this is something he would have taken up in his first three-and-a-half years, not in his last few months.”
Romney said Obama's order would be “overtaken by events” in a Romney administration, which he said would pass legislation to create a long-term immigration solution.
“This is something Congress has been working on and I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forward by Sen. Marco Rubio and by Democrat senators, but the president jumped in and said ‘I’m going to take this action,’” said Romney, during the interview which was taped on Saturday while the former Massachusetts governor's bus tour stopped in Pennsylvania.
“He called it a stopgap measure. I don’t know why he feels stopgap measures are the right way to go," explained Romney.
He charged that Obama's order would become irrelevant "by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution, with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals such that they know what their setting is going to be, not just for the term of a president but on a permanent basis."
With the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare expected to be handed down any day, Romney said Obamacare, on a federal level, is “unconstitutional," and added that "states have under their constitution the right to require people to either go to school, or get auto insurance, or in this case to get health insurance.”
He pointed to the solution that he helped broker in Massachusetts.
"We created a solution; Republicans and Democrats, business and labor in our state, we worked collaboratively," Romney said.
"The president instead on a very partisan basis jammed through a bill, didn't get a single Republican vote, didn't really try and work for a Republican vote," he said. "If I'm president, we're going to stop 'Obamacare' in its tracks.”
Schieffer also asked Romney what he would do about the growing financial crisis in Europe.
Romney said that the American banking sector "is able to weather the storm" in Europe. He said European countries are capable of dealing with their mess "if they choose to do so" and the United States doesn't want to get into the business of bailing out foreign banks.
Romney also does not favor another round of economic stimulus by the Federal Reserve, saying a previous one didn't have the desired effect.
Romney said he wished that Obama would have taken action to rebuild the U.S. economy so it would be on a strong footing to absorb any challenges from the spiraling European crisis.
“But right now we’re dealing with 23 million people out of work, or stopped looking for work, or underemployed — homes are still bumping along the bottom, foreclosures are at very high levels, median income’s way down,” Romney explained. “The president has frankly made it harder for the economy to reboot. I’d strengthen the basis of America’s economic might.”
On the possibility of a nuclear Iran, Romney told Schieffer, “I can assure you that if I’m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I would be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world.
Romney's Rust Belt tour swept through Ohio on Sunday. He attended a Father's Day pancake breakfast with two of his sons and five of his 18 grandchildren. He told a rain-soaked crowd that the weather was a metaphor for the country and that "three and half years of dark clouds are about to part."
He planned two additional stops in the state Sunday.
Obama adviser David Plouffe, sent by the White House to four of the talk shows, contended that Obama's action, which appeals to Hispanic voters who are critical to the president's re-election effort, was not "a political move."
Obama's immigration announcement disrupted the start of Romney's five-day bus tour through small cities and towns in six important states.
The tour, now on its third day, scheduled two stops are in Ohio towns just outside the metropolitan areas of Cleveland and Columbus. Romney spent the first two days in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, where he assailed Obama and insisted that he's the candidate who will give middle-class Americans "a fair shot."
The Obama administration said the policy change announced Friday will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. Obama's move bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the Democrats' long-stalled legislation aimed at young illegal immigrants who went to college or served in the military.
Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be able to avoid deportation if they can prove they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED diploma or certificate, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed.
Romney's CBS interview was his first in more than a year with a Sunday talk show on a network other than Fox. It covered a range of topics, including health care, Romney's political future and the European financial crisis.
Romney also insisted that he isn't worried about his own political future. "I don't have a political career," Romney said. "I spent my life in the private sector. I don't care about re-elections."
Schieffer asked, "So you're not saying you just intend to serve one term?"
Romney replied that for him "this is not about politics. This is not about did I win this or did they win this. This is about what can we do to get America right."
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