Mitt Romney sits for an interview, and not just on Fox News

Mitt Romney sat down for an interview on 'Face the Nation,' fielding hard balls not typically thrown at him on Fox News. Meanwhile, Obama strategist David Plouffe darted among four other Sunday talk shows, zinging Romney and defending Obama's controversial moves.

Evan Vucci/AP
Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gestures during a campaign stop at Mapleside Farms on Sunday, June 17, 2012, in Brunswick, Ohio.

Mitt Romney threw off his media security blanket Sunday. That is, he sat down for a substantial TV interview that was not hosted by the friendly folks at Fox News.

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” he faced veteran newsman Bob Schieffer, who peppered him with questions about the economy, immigration, Europe’s financial crisis, and other issues.

It wasn’t exactly the Spanish Inquisition (no verbal water-boarding), nor was it anything like a proper press conference where reporters could tag-team him.

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But there were follow-up questions. Three times, for example, Mr. Romney ducked answering whether he’d repeal President Obama’s order regarding the children of illegal immigrants brought to this country.

That’s a tough one for Romney, who’s feeling pressure from some prominent Republicans (Jeb BushMarco Rubio, and Haley Barbour, among them) to back away from the very tough line he took on immigration during the GOP primary debates.

Now, he told Mr. Schieffer, “I would work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution for the children of those that have come here illegally.” (On immigration, it seems, he’s sounding more and more like that old softy Newt Gingrich.)

Romney was questioned on another ticklish subject – Obamacare, which was modeled after Romney’s own health insurance program when he was governor of Massachusetts.

With the Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutionality of Obama's health-care law expected as soon as Monday, Romney described what he would do if the justices threw it out.

He wants to make sure people "don't have to worry about losing their insurance" if they already have a medical condition and change jobs; that individuals can buy coverage on their own, if they choose to do so, "on the same tax-advantage basis" as companies do; and that states, aided by federal dollars, take responsibility for the poor and uninsured.

Again, that sounds at least somewhat more nuanced than his “I’d repeal Obamacare on Day 1” line.

Here’s Romney’s exchange regarding Europe’s financial crisis:

Schieffer: "If the European economy falls apart, the American economy is going to be in big trouble. What should we be doing right now?"

Romney: "The president's frankly made it harder for our economy to reboot. I'd strengthen the basis of America's economic might…. One is to take advantage of our energy resources."

Schieffer: "But I mean would that work right now?… Should we become involved? What do we do?"

Romney: "Well, we're not going to send checks to Europe. We're not going to bail out the European banks. We're going to be poised here to support our economy, but I'm very much in favor of the fundamental things one does to strengthen the economic footings of a nation. And as to what's going to happen in Europe and what kind of impact that will have here, time will tell. But our banks are on a much stronger basis than they were at the time of the last economic crisis."

Meanwhile, while Romney was sitting down with CBS, White House senior adviser David Plouffe darted from one TV talk show to another Sunday – four appearances in all – like some black-caped dramatic chorus, zinging Romney (and Republicans generally) for the “huge tax cuts for the wealthy, more war, more debt” he said they’d impose if Romney wrested the White House from Barack Obama.

On ABC's "This Week," host George Stephanopoulos pushed back on Mr. Plouffe’s Republicans-as-warmongers line.

“More war?” Stephanopoulos asked. “Where are the Republicans calling for more war?”

“Well, listen, the point is, George, our opponent and many in Congress criticized our decision to end the Iraq war,” Plouffe wriggled. “I think Governor Romney called it a tragic mistake, oppose a timeline in Afghanistan. So – and, by the way, you know, that also has fiscal and economic consequences, because we have to focus on rebuilding this country. And that's what the president wants to do, is take half the money from ending the wars and focus on rebuilding this country.”

Plouffe also had to defend Obama’s surprise announcement halting the deportation of as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants, providing them temporary work permits under certain conditions.

“This simply gives Homeland Security and our law enforcement officials the opportunity to enforce the law with some discretion and allows these young people, who came here many times early in their life, who want to serve in our military and work in our businesses and study in our colleges, the ability to apply for a two-year period for work authorization,” Plouffe said.

But he also acknowledged Romney’s point that a permanent fix is needed. And you could hear guffaws echoing around Washington when, with a straight face, he told CNN’s Candy Crowley, "This is not a political move."

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

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