I should give credit where credit is due, the Washington Post had a couple of very informative pieces on immigration on Friday.
In the first one, the Post tells us (if we Tea Partiers need to be told) that the issue of illegal immigration is heavy on voters minds as they begin to mull over the choices of Presidential candidates for 2012. We felt the mood clearly in the recent very successful petition drive in Maryland to get the issue of instate tuition for illegal immigrants on the ballot for 2012—the outpouring of anger about it surprised me, especially as it came from all quarters—Democrats, Independents and of course Republicans.
I was also surprised and disappointed to hear Rush Limbaugh, who I usually love, make an offhand comment about this article from the WaPo and tell listeners he thought this (focus on immigration) was an effort by the Dems to pull our attention away from the economic issues (I wanted to shout at Rush that this is an economic issue!). Maybe I misheard him. But, I believe he also said the social issues should be set aside for the moment. I want him to know we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Any candidate for the GOP nomination better get his (or her) line straight on immigration.
Here is the Washington Post story:
KEENE, N.H. — Mitt Romney opened his town hall meeting here talking about the economy — his thoughts on growing business, getting government out of the way — just as he does nearly every other campaign event. But when he opened last week’s forum for questions, the first voter he called on didn’t seem concerned about any of that. He wanted to know the Republican presidential candidate’s stance on border security.
A similar scene played out in South Carolina a few days later, when Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) attended a town hall meeting she assumed would center on the economy, jobs and the federal deficit — only to see the assembled voters react most passionately to her comments on illegal immigration.
Polls may not suggest it, and the candidates may not be catering to it, but immigration is an issue that voters won’t let the GOP White House hopefuls escape.
Republican primary voters keep bringing immigration up as the candidates campaign in back yards, opera houses and recreation halls across Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. To a sizable chunk of those who will pick the GOP’s presidential nominee, immigration is an urgent issue, even a litmus test.
Read it all, here.
You can see all of the GOP hopefuls immigration scores (compared to Obama’s F-) at NumbersUSA here.
Now to Rick Perry and his problem with the two “I’s” (Immigration and Islam):
I’m not going to try to explain the huge and seething controversy on-going about Rick Perry’s connection to certain Muslim leaders. I will once it comes into clearer focus.
But, on immigration Perry is taking a pounding. I wish I had saved all the stories I’ve seen in the last week or so on it, but here are a few from the last few days to give you the flavor of it:
Here is Tom Tancredo at Politico, Tancredo says Perry called him a racist:
When I ran for president in 2008, I tried to pressure the Republican candidates to take a hard line against illegal immigration. For this, Perry called me a racist.
When he first took office as governor in 2001, Perry went to Mexico and bragged about his law that granted “the children of undocumented workers” special in-state tuition at Texas colleges, the first state in the nation to do so.
In keeping with the theme of that Washington Post article (above) Perry angered some New Hampshire voters yesterday when he said he didn’t support a border fence, here (from AP):
Speaking to hundreds of Granite State voters at a private reception, the Texas governor was asked whether he supported a fence along the Mexican border.
“No, I don’t support a fence on the border,” he said, while referring to the long border in Texas alone.
In fairness to Perry he went on to explain other ideas for border security other than a fence. However, this sanctuary city issue in Texas is more telling.
Tea party activists in Texas have been particularly upset by his steady opposition to the fence. He also signed a law giving illegal immigrants in-state tuition for Texas universities. And Texas tea party groups sent Perry an open letter this year expressing disappointment over his failure to get a bill passed that would have outlawed “sanctuary cities,” municipalities that protect illegal immigrants.
…… neither Perry nor Romney seem to have strong views on immigration, their positions apparently driven by a desire to curry favor with big campaign contributors or the Mexican government. This is in contrast to Bush, who actually believed all his immigration baloney, and that contrast is a good thing, because a craven pol with his finger in the wind is much easier to sway with political pressure than a true-believer.
I’m sure we will have much more as time goes on.