When I dropped out of the running for the GOP presidential nomination, I felt like I could take credit for making the more telegenic candidates at least give immigration enforcement some lip service. It became conventional wisdom that I forced the immigration issue into the primaries. The New Yorker wrote,
"The emergence of Tancredoism as an ideological touchstone for two Republican front-runners is a stunning development, another indication of the Party’s rejection of nearly everything associated with the approach taken by George W. Bush."
John McCain, the same man who had introduced an amnesty earlier that year, began changing his slogan to “Secure the Border First” by the end of the year. He even stopped using euphemisms like “comprehensive immigration reform.”
However, as soon as he got the nomination he started running Spanish language ads blaming the Democrats for not passing amnesty!
McCain is currently facing a primary challenge from former congressman J.D. Hayworth, a solid conservative who led the fight against amnesty in Congress. Once again, McCain is beginning to sound a lot like me.
He’s vocally supporting Arizona’s tough new law—even though he had opposed much more moderate measures in the state such as their Proposition 200. He has an ad where he walks by the border and demands “Complete the danged fence.”
Just a few years ago he had the opposite message, but with similar--if slightly more colorful--language.
In 2007 he told a group of business leaders that he thought, “the fence is least effective,” but if that’s what was needed to pass an amnesty, “I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it.”
Republicans have already been fooled in 2010. In California, liberal Republican Meg Whitman ran off against conservative Steve Poizner, who took a strong stand against illegal immigration.
During the primary, Whitman ran ads saying she is “tough as nails on illegal immigration” and is “100% against amnesty.” She continues, “
As governor, I will crack down on so-called sanctuary cities like San Francisco who thumb their nose at our laws. Illegal immigrants should not expect benefits from the State of California. No driver’s license and no admission to state-funded institutions of higher education.
Republican voters took the bait and gave her the nomination.