9:15 am Jun. 18, 2012
After months of dodging the Sunday shows, Mitt Romney made his debut on "Face the Nation" this week, with an outdoor interview in Cornwall, Pennsylvania.
But host Bob Schieffer wasn't any more able to elicit specifics from Romney about his plans for the tax code and health care than any of the candidate's previous interrogators.
Schieffer reached back to an exchange during the Republican primary, when Romney was appearing almost exclusively on Fox News, to ask about Romney's refusal to accept any tax increases even if they were accompanied by ten times as much in spending cuts.
"When are you going to tell us where you're going to get the revenue?" Schieffer asked. "Which of the deductions are you going to be willing to eliminate? Which of the tax credits are you going to? When will you going to be able to tell us that?"
Romney said only that he would "go through that process with Congress as to which of all the different deductions and exemptions."
The closest he came to offering specifics was to say that he would look to limit deductions and exemptions for the top earners, but would pay "the same share of the tax burden they're paying now."
"I think that's important to say, look, I'm not looking to reduce the burden paid by the wealthiest," Romney said. "I'm looking to keep the burden paid by the wealthiest as the same share as it is today."
Romney, who was sharply critical of President Obama's decision last week to stop deporting undocumented young immigrants who would be covered by future Dream Act legislation, also refused to say whether he'd actually reverse the decision.
"We'll look at that setting as we reach that," he said. "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 a stopgap measure."
Romney mostly stuck to what has become the Republican script on the president's decision, which is to attack it as a political move and a violation of the legislative process, without actually dealing with the substance of it.
"I think the timing is pretty clear," Romney said. "If he really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with the 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."
That was slightly less forceful than Senator John McCain's characterization on "Meet the Press," where he called the decision a political "distraction."
"I think that this is obviously a way to divert attention from very bad news the president's had for the last three or four weeks," McCain said, calling it a "serious step" that the president was now deciding not to enforce certain laws.
Rick Santorum, meanwhile, reacted by criticizing Romney's lack of a meaningful reaction.
"He's trying to walk a line as not to sound like he's hostile to Latinos, and [voters] in very important states," Santorum said on CNN's "State of the Union."
"But at the same time, I think you need to hammer the president on this now-habitual abuse of power," he said, citing the president's decision not to defend portions of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Since it was Father's Day, Schieffer wrapped up his Romney segment with some clips of George Romney, making what the host said was a similar case for the presidency back in 1968.
Romney said thinking about his dad "tugs at my heart strings."
"I look at my dad as one of a kind, spoke the truth, suffered for it politically from time to time, but didn't care about the politics of truth," Romney said. "He said what he believed and moved on."