WASHINGTON, May 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — After announcing the new Spanish-language page of his website during a press conference in Arizona this morning, John McCain once again tried to have it both ways on the immigration reform debate, demonstrating yet again that he’s not able to lead his own Party, much less the country.
McCain said he would pursue comprehensive immigration reform as soon as he takes office. But in the same news conference, McCain also took the opposite position: saying that the borders have to be secured first. McCain touted a virtual fence today and said we could have secured the border if it wasn’t for all the earmarks and pork spending in Washington. But as recently as March, McCain called the virtual fence a “failed effort” and a “disgrace.” Asked whether state and local law enforcement agencies should be enforcing federal immigration laws, McCain said “I support the enforcement of every law that’s on the books in the United States of America.” But moments later McCain took the opposite position, blaming the federal government for having “failed to act” and asserting, “when I’m president, beginning in January 0f 2009 we will have a federal approach to what is a federal problem.”
Today’s news conference was the latest in a string of double talk on immigration reform. Earlier this year, McCain caved in to the right wing of his Party, admitting that he would vote against his own immigration reform bill if it came to the floor of the Senate. And, despite today’s rhetoric about the need for comprehensive immigration reform, McCain’s campaign scuttled a deal on comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. House of Representatives just last month. [CNN debate, 1/30/08; http://youtube.com/watch?v=PgvFkICnRoo; Roll Call, 4/3/08]
McCain’s double-talk is indicative of a major problem the GOP nominee faces heading to the general election, trying to both appease the Party’s conservative base while trying to reach out to moderate voters and Hispanics who have been targeted with ugly Republican Party attacks on the immigration issue. A recent survey from the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center found that 57% of Hispanic registered voters call themselves or lean Democrat “while just 23% align with the Republican Party — meaning there is now a 34-percentage-point gap in partisan affiliation among Latinos.” [Pew Hispanic Center, 12/06/07]
“It’s hard to know what someone’s real vision for our country is when they consistently take every side of the issues,” said Democratic National Committee spokesman Luis Miranda. “John McCain cannot have it both ways. He cannot pander to the right wing of his Party by promising an enforcement-only approach to immigration while telling Hispanics that he supports comprehensive reform. As the saying goes, ‘dime con quien andas, y te dire quien eres.’ If John McCain can’t say where he really stands, he’s giving voters one more example of why he is the wrong choice for America’s future.”
A DNC Interested Parties Memo on McCain’s difficulty with Hispanics can be found in PDF format by clicking on the link below.
More McCain Double Talk on Immigration Reform
MCCAIN TODAY: We Can Secure Border With “Vehicle barriers, Cameras, Sensors.” “All of that can be worked out and adequately so, particularly when you get outside of populated areas where you can use vehicle barriers, cameras, sensors and many other ways. It is an issue that in my view is not only not insurmountable, but it can be worked out in cooperation between state and local and government agencies.” [McCain Media Availability, Phoenix (AZ), www.cnn.com/live feed, 5/5/08]
MCCAIN IN MARCH: McCain Called Arizona’s “High-Tech” Virtual Fence a “Failed Effort” and a “Disgrace.” The AP reported McCain “told reporters in Phoenix on Monday that not enough research has been done on the 28-mile array of radars and surveillance cameras. McCain says it is a failed effort.” “It’s a – it’s a disgrace. It’s a disgrace. They spent a huge amount of money on this quote virtual fence and it’s just. I mean. I – It’s so disappointing when the Americans highest, one of their highest priorities is to secure our borders, that we have a major corporation that gets a major contract and it turns into be a failed effort, but, in no way does this diminish my enthusiasm or anybody else’s to get our borders secure.” [CNN Live Feed (Phoenix, AZ), 3/3/08; [AP, 3/3/08]]
MCCAIN TODAY: We Must Secure The Border First. “We must secure the borders and the border state governors will then certify that the borders are secure. Then we have a temporary worker program with tamper-proof biometric documents and we address the issue of people who have come here illegally.” [CNN Live Feed (Phoenix, AZ), 5/5/08]
February of 2007: McCain Admitted He Was Pandering to Conservatives on Border Enforcement, Saying, “I Think the Fence is Least Effective. But I’ll Build the Goddamned Fence If They Want It.” “A day earlier, in Milwaukee, in front of an audience of more sympathetic businessmen, McCain had been asked how debate over the immigration bill was playing politically. ‘In the short term, it probably galvanizes our base,’ he said. ‘In the long term, if you alienate the Hispanics, you’ll pay a heavy price.’ Then he added, unable to help himself, ‘By the way, I think the fence is least effective. But I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it.'” [Vanity Fair, February 2007]
In September of 2006, McCain Said “Enforcement First” Was “An Ineffective and Ill-Advised Approach” to Immigration Reform. “In passing this legislation, the Senate rejected the argument for an ‘enforcement first’ strategy that focuses on border security only, an ineffective and ill-advised approach. . . . “Congress cannot take a piecemeal approach to a national security crisis. I believe the only way to truly secure our border and protect our Nation is through the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform. As long as there is a need for workers in the United States and people are willing to cross the desert to make a better life for their families, our border will never be secure.” . . . “If Congress thinks that it can continue this piecemeal approach to border security and achieve any real results for our national security, it is sadly mistaken.” [Congressional Record, 9/29/06]
In May of 2006, McCain Said An Enforcement-First Approach to Immigration Reform Would Never Succeed in Stopping Illegal Immigration. “No wall, no barrier, no sensor, no barbed wire will ever stop people from trying to do what is a basic yearning of human beings all over the world, and that is to have better lives for themselves and their families.” . . . “And as much as I believe in technology and as much as I think walls are important and UAVs and all that, there has never been a case in history where you have been able to stop people from doing something that has to do with their very existence. That is the way many people feel who come here.” [Congressional Record, 5/16/06]
In March of 2006, McCain Said An Enforcement-Only Bill Would “Never Be Fully Enforceable Regardless of Every Conceivable Border Security Improvement We Make.” “The border security provisions under the leader’s bill and the Judiciary Committee’s bill provide sound proposals to promote strong enforcement and should be part of any final bill. However, I do not believe the Senate should or will pass an enforcement-only bill. Our experiences with our current immigration system have proven that outdated or unrealistic laws will never be fully enforceable regardless of every conceivable border security improvement we make. Despite an increase in Border Patrol agents from 3,600 to 10,000, despite quintupling the Border Patrol budget, despite the employment of new technologies and tactics, all to enforce current immigration laws, illegal immigration drastically increased during the 1990s.” [Congressional Record, 3/30/06]
2001: McCain Opposed Federal Funding for Border Security. In 2001, Senator McCain criticized federal funding for projects that would be used by border and law enforcement agencies to increase security measures. McCain blasted the “unrequested” spending as a “further burden to the American taxpayers.” McCain listed opposition to earmarks for several projects in Arizona that included a detainee facility in Prescott, a border guard service processing center in Florence, a border patrol sector headquarters in Tucson, and border patrol stations in Yuma and Douglas. [McCain Senate Press Release, 9/13/2001]
2003: McCain Opposed $25.6 Million for Tucson Border Control Station. In 2003, Senator McCain criticized $25.6 million for construction of a U.S. Border Patrol station in Tucson, Arizona. McCain deemed the project wasteful spending because it didn’t go through proper legislative channels. [Gannett, 4/10/2003]
2005: McCain Opposed Funds for Digital Transition and Public Safety Fund and Tactical Infrastructure At Border. In 2005 McCain opposed “$55 million for the completion of the Tucson tactical infrastructure around the border.” McCain also opposed “a provision that directs funds from the Digital Transition and Public Safety Fund that are in excess of $12 billion to be spent on, among other things, the Tucson, Arizona Border Patrol sector;” and “$30 million for Tucson, AZ Border Patrol sector for tactical infrastructure.” [Congressional Record 7/14/05; Congressional Record 12/20/05]
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