Romney in Stratham, New Hampshire (Evan Vucci/AP)
Mitt Romney appeared on CBS' "Face The Nation" on Sunday, telling Bob Schieffer that President Obama's decision to halt the deportation of as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants was politically-driven, but refused to say he would repeal the order if elected president.
"First of all, we have to secure the border," Romney said, reiterating remarks he made on the campaign trail on Friday. "We need to have an employment verification system, to make sure that those that are working here in this country are here legally. And then, with regards to these kids who were brought in by their parents through no fault of their own, there needs to be a long-term solution so they know what their status is. This is something Congress has been working on--and I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forward by Senator Marco Rubio and by Democrat senators--but the president jumped in and said I'm going to take this action, he called it a stop-gap measure. I don't know why he feels stop-gap measures are the right way to go."
When pressed, the presumptive presidential nominee side-stepped the issue of a repeal:
Schieffer: Would you repeal this?
Romney: Well, it would be overtaken by events if you will, 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.
Schieffer: I won't keep on about this but just to make sure I understand, would you leave this in place while you worked out a long term solution or would you just repeal it?
Romney: We'll look at that setting as we reach that, but my anticipation is I'd come into office and say we need to get this done, on a long-term basis, not this kind of stop-gap measure. What the President did, he should have worked on this years ago, 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.
Schieffer: Well why do you think he did that?
Romney: I think the timing is pretty clear, if he really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with illegal immigration in America, than this is something he would have taken up in his first 3 and a half years, not in his last few months.
Schieffer: So he did it for politics.
Romney: Well, that's certainly a big part of the equation.
On CNN's "State of the Union," Rick Santorum criticized his former Republican rival for not coming down harder on Obama and the immigration issue.
"He's trying to walk the line," Santorum said. "He's trying to walk a line as not to sound like he's hostile to Latinos--swing voters--and in very important states. But at the same time, I think you need to hammer the president on this now habitual abuse of power."
Romney reasserted the stance he made during the Republican primary that he would reject a deal that would increase taxes by 1 dollar for every 10 dollars in spending cuts. "Government is big and getting larger and there are those who think, 'Well, the answer is just to take a little more from the American people," Romney said.
[Slideshow: Romney's swing state bus tour]
He also said the U.S. government should focus on stabilizing the American economy without getting too deeply involved in Europe's economic woes.
"We're not going to send checks to Europe," Romney said. "We're not going to bail out the European banks. We're going to be poised here to support our economy."
Later in the interview, the former Massachusetts governor claimed he would take a hard-line on Iran: "I can assure you, 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."
And Romney-who on Saturday Obama should have been a governor before being elected president--said he would be able to unite the country because he does not play politics.
"I'm really not a guy that's going for the next step in my political career," he said. "Bob, I don't have a political career. I served as governor for four years. I spent my life in the private sector. The private sector is where I've made my mark. I am in this race because I want to get America back on the right track. I don't care about re-elections, I don't care about the partisanship that goes on, I want to get America right."