Republican Rep. David Rivera slammed Mitt Romney on immigration during an interview on Monday, accusing Romney of failing to lead on the issue.
Rivera, a Cuban-American who is widely considered to be a power broker in Florida’s Latino community, told Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins that “”I think Hispanic voters expect more details as to what that ‘permanent solution’ might be that [Romney] keeps talking about.”
“Gov. Romney has taken positions on issues other than the economy. Immigration shouldn’t be an exception,” Rivera added. “I think he could show more leadership on the issue by unveiling a specific proposal.”
Rivera speculated that Romney has not clarified his plans on immigration (or taken a position on President Obama’s executive order halting the deportation of DREAM Act-eligible youth) out of political cowardice.
“I think they’re probably worried about wading into a quagmire where whatever he does he will be criticized from the right, and have it not be satisfactory to those for whom the issue matters,” he said.
As Coppins notes, Rivera is the only Latino Republican in the House who does not serve on Romney’s Hispanic Steering Committee. Romney has kept Rivera at a distance because of the ongoing investigations into Rivera’s finances. According to Miami-Dade prosecutors, Rivera “essentially live[d] off” campaign contributions for almost a decade, paying four mortgages and traveling the world without ever earning more than $28,000 a year.
Unlike Romney, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has refused to distance himself from Rivera. Despite Rivera’s troubles, Rubio has publicly defended him to the press and held fundraisers on his behalf.
Rivera’s decision to speak out against Romney could be a sign that Rubio — who is far more moderate than Romney on immigration reform, and whose relationship with Rivera has been described as “one step below blood” — also does not see eye to eye with the Republican nominee on the issue. That, in turn, could be another sign that Rubio is not going to be added to Romney’s ticket as his running mate.