Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rift on the Right: Immigration Reform Triggering Conservative Backlash

Posted by on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 3:31 PM

The Senate's Gang of Eight—including Arizona's John McCain and Jeff Flake—unveiled its comprohensive immigration reform package earlier this week.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, in particular, is taking some hits. Republicans—including Arizona National Republican Committeeman Bruce Ash—have been highlighting the so-called "Marcophone." The idea is to provide ranchers and other border residents with satellite phones in remote areas where cellular phones don't work so they can call for help in emergencies. But it's being mocked in conservative media circles; Rubio put out a press release in an effort to stop the criticism yesterday.

Earlier today, Rubio faced a tough audience in Rush Limbaugh. Talking Points Memo reports:

Limbaugh’s argument, common among reform opponents, was that Latino voters are sympathetic to a more active government in polling and therefore don’t deserve the party’s attention. He suggested trying to maximize the evangelical vote instead.

“I know that you say the political aspects of this are not yours, but so many people are scared to death, Senator, that the Republican party is committing suicide,” Limbaugh said. “That we’re going to end up legalizing 9 million automatic Democrat voters and that’s why the Democrats are so adamant.”

Limbaugh also said: “I see polling data again that suggests 70 percent of the Hispanic population worldwide or in the country believes that government is the primary source of prosperity. I don’t, therefore, understand this contention that Hispanics are conservatives in waiting. “

Rubio said that his interest in the bill was strictly policy based, not political. But he countered that Hispanic voters were no different than other must-win blocs, like the millennial vote, in that Republicans had failed to properly present their arguments to them in recent years.

“I’m not prepared to admit that there’s this entire population of people who, because of their heritage, are not willing to listen to our pitch about why limited government is better,” Rubio said.

In related news, Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) isn't a supporter of the Gang of Eight's plan.

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