A top Republican operative from the Bay Area dragged the Mitt Romney presidential campaign into sensitive territory this week when she said Romney was "still deciding" on his immigration stance.
Los Gatos, Calif., resident Bettina Inclan, who coordinates Hispanic outreach for the Republican National Committee, revealed at a video conference Tuesday that she wasn't sure about the former Massachusetts governor's approach to immigration.
"As a candidate, to my understanding, he is still deciding what his position on immigration is, so I can't talk about what his proposal is going to be," she said in response to questions.
Inclan later retracted her statement, saying on Twitter, "I misspoke, Romney's position on immigration is clear," but by then Democrats had capitalized on the gaffe.
Romney ran to the right of most of his Republican contenders on immigration during the primary campaign, but many political experts expect he may take a more moderate tone in the coming months in a quest to woo Latino voters.
"Over the past year Mitt Romney has proven time and time again that he is the most extreme presidential candidate in modern history on immigration. His position may be inconvenient, but it has been clear," wrote Gabriela Domenzain, the Obama campaign's director for Hispanic press outreach, in a statement Tuesday.
Domenzain added: "He has promised to veto the DREAM Act, thinks all undocumented immigrants should self-deport, has called the anti-immigrant Arizona law a 'model' for the nation and has paraded around the country with the nation's leading anti-immigrant voices."
Inclan could not be reached for comment. On Twitter, she pointed to Romney's campaign website for his position on immigration.
The RNC hired the 32-year-old Inclan in January to direct Latino outreach around the country. She worked on campaigns in her native Florida and in the nation's capital before moving to the Bay Area three years ago to work on the gubernatorial campaign of Steve Poizner, then the state insurance commissioner.
She veered away from discussing immigration policy in a February interview with this newspaper, insisting the issue is far less important to Latinos than the economy. However, she blogged last year that the tone of the debate over illegal immigration "has dictated how many Latino voters perceive a candidate, especially Republican candidates."
The reality, she said, "is we need to find a middle ground between a blanket amnesty and forced mass deportation."
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