A top staffer for the Republican National Committee got the party’s election-year outreach to Latino voters off to a disastrous public start Monday when she told a roomful of reporters that likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a hard-liner on immigration, was still formulating his position on the issue.

“As a candidate, to my understanding, that he’s still deciding what his position on immigration is,” said Bettina Inclan, who became the RNC’s director of Hispanic Outreach in January. “I can’t talk about something that I don’t know what the position is.”

Inclan, a former executive director of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly who worked in Rick Scott’s 2010 campaign for governor of Florida, had just finished attacking President Barack Obama’s record on immigration. “He talked about uniting families, and all he’s done is deport more immigrants than any president in American history,” she told a news conference at Republican headquarters in Washington.

That prompted a reporter to ask how the RNC’s Latino outreach team would answer an undecided Hispanic voter who might wonder, having watched the GOP debates, whether Romney’s approach would be to deport even more people. Inclan’s stumbling response prompted an immediate flurry of critical Twitter messages and a swift attack from the Obama campaign.

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