A few weeks ago, when Mitt Romney said he "saw" his father march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I gave him a pass.
After all, I reasoned, that if he saw it in a picture -- or on TV -- then it wasn't really intentionally misleading. But I must confess, parcing the meaning of the word "saw" did remind me of Bill Clinton's statement that the word is depends on "what the meaning of "is" is ..."
That was a few weeks ago, and I argued that Romney deserved a pass on it. But this exchange this morning on This Week, makes me wonder if Romney is too smooth, too nuanced, and, in fact, Clintnoesque ...
STEPHANOPOULOS: You and John McCain also went at it last night on the issue of immigration again and whether or not his plan is a plan that includes amnesty. Here’s what you said last night.
ROMNEY: I don't describe your plan as amnesty in your ad. I don't call it amnesty.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But here's your ad.
ROMNEY AD CLIP: On immigration, McCain supported this year's amnesty bill. Higher taxes, amnesty for illegals. That’s straight talk for being in Washington too long.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Had you not seen your own ad?
ROMNEY: I hadn't seen that one and my staff told me afterwards it does say amnesty and I said well it’s not supposed to.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Its two ads both of them saying it.
ROMNEY: Yes there’s a man in the street, one that says amnesty, as well and I was simply incorrect. His bill -- he does not technically under the term support amnesty because he says, well, he makes them pay $5,000 and technically that's not amnesty and I guess that's true. You could say to somebody if you pay 5 bucks then it's not amnesty but the reality.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it amnesty or not?
ROMNEY: Well, you're going to have to define the word for me. I call it---
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well you're running for president, not me.
ROMNEY: Yeah, ok. When you ask the question, when you ask the question, you want a specific answer based on your definition. My definition is this, that if a -- if illegals are able to all stay in this country and thereby get an enormous advantage over everybody else, that is a form of amnesty.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you do believe his plan is amnesty then?
ROMNEY: Not under a legal definition but under the normal colloquial definition, yes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't understand the distinction.
ROMNEY: But let me tell this, why don’t I just tell you what his ad, what his posture does. What his posture does is it says that every alien in this country who is here illegally gets to stay here for the rest of their life and that is wrong.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He denies that, of course.
ROMNEY: Well, but look at the bill. Look at the bill. He tries to turn and twist. The bill that he came out with, the last bill that he stood up with Senator Kennedy and the others and said this is our bill. It provides for a Z visa, a temporary visa for everyone here illegally and it says it's renewable indefinitely. That is a permanent right to stay in America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So I'm going to take that as a yes and move on.
Aside from the fact that he can't define amnesty, either Mitt Romney has not seen his own ads -- which in itself is a concerning proposition for a future president -- or he misled the audience last night ...