One has to wonder why Rubio thinks that immigration should be the issue where he will distingish himself as a candidate. Less than a year ago, presidential candidates of his party were tripping over themselves to get to the right of Rick Perry on immigration. Yes, to the right of Rick Frickin Perry. We heard proposals for electified fences, alligator moats, and worse as Republicans sought to make border security the issue rather than the immigration system. We had the eventual nominee of the party, who had the most extreme position in the primary, actually advocate a policy of self-deportation. That guy won with a strong message of 'get out and don't come back.' The Republican primary electorate had no appetite for doing anything that might treat brown people with basic dignity and respect. Rubio seems to be betting that he can change the views that animate these people and as a result claim a constiency for himself in the Republican party. Of all the things he wants to run on in a Republican primary, Rubio has chosen immigration reform.
The response has been...err....less than welcoming:
"Rubio’s bill is nothing but amnesty. It isn't even 'amnesty thinly disguised as border enforcement,'" Coulter wrote. "This is a wolf in wolf's clothing."Add Rush Limbaugh, Sen. David Vitter, National Review, and even fellow Latino Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to the list of those targeting Rubio for promoting 'amnesty for illegals.' This is literally the kiss of death for any Republican running in a GOP primary. The worst thing you can have as a Republican presidential candidate is to be accused of promoting amnesty. Ask Rick Perry what killed him long before his brain freeze forgetting how much government he wanted to destroy. Yet, here we have Marco Rubio out running around staking out a position on immigration nearly identical to the ideas President Obama has been running on for years. Marco Rubio seriously believes that the path to the nomination runs through success on President Obama's immigration bill?
I'm not buying it.
If Rubio is going to be a contender for the GOP nomination, he's going to have to abandon his own bill. I am predicting he will do so, beating a full on retreat as opposition from the right continues to mount. He will blame President Obama for his retreat, accusing the President of 'amnesty' while running away from his own bill. But make no mistake, the bill Rubio does support is already being called amnesty by the crazy right and his predictable retreat from his own bill will reveal the political cowardice that has guided his entire political career. No matter if immigration reform succeeds or fails, Rubio will have to mend fences with the GOP primary electorate. If not on immigration, then something else.
One thing Sen. Rubio has to ask himself is why is he the only person out selling the bill? None of the other potential 2016 candidates are. Looks to me like he might be being played in a game of "use the Hispanic guy." Once he gets the answer to that question, perhaps then he will understand the real reason why his party uses border security as an excuse to avoid rational reform of our immigration system.