Mitt Romney: "I Haven't Met With Kris Kobach"

By: Posted by CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby
By: Posted by CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mitt Romney told an interviewer Monday that he has never met with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of tough immigration laws in Alabama and Arizona who says he has been counseling Romney for years.

Univision America Radio host Helen Aguirre-Ferre asked Romney, who spent Monday making a push for Hispanic voters, if Kobach is advising his campaign on immigration policy.

Aguirre-Ferre said "there are some Hispanics who are concerned" with Romney's immigration positions, specifically his promise to veto the DREAM Act as well as Kobach's involvement in the campaign.

Romney said he has not met with Kobach, whom the campaign has described as an "informal adviser."

"As to the other individual that you mentioned, he may well be part of a policy team," Romney said. "I have not met with him yet. And don't know whether he is or he is not. So, sorry I can't confirm that for you."

That's a far cry from the full-throated praise Romney had for Kobach in January after he endorsed the former Massachusetts governor during the Republican primaries.

"I'm so proud to earn Kris's support," Romney said in a statement announcing the Kobach endorsement. "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."

Asked for clarification, a spokesman for the Romney campaign said Romney and Kobach have, in fact, met before at campaign events - but not in formal policy meetings. The aide said that in Monday's radio interview, Romney was referring to policy meetings, which Kobach does not participate in.

"Mr. Kobach does not participate in formal policy meetings with the governor or the campaign. He contributes informal advice periodically," the spokesman said.

Kobach became a focal point of the campaign last April after a Romney adviser described the immigration hardliner as just a "supporter" of the campaign rather than an "adviser."

The campaign later backtracked and called him an adviser, much to the glee of Obama campaign operatives who have tried to drive a wedge between Romney and Hispanic voters.

As for Kobach, he has not been shy about announcing his ties to senior Romney campaign officials - and the candidate himself. In February, he told The Guardian that he has "advised Romney directly."

Kobach told the National Review in April that he has been providing advice to Romney and his advisers since 2008.

"The governor takes my advice, and does what he wants with it," Kobach told the conservative magazine.


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