Sen. Marco Rubio blew it. During his appearance on this morning’s edition of NBC’s Meet the Press Sen. Marco Rubio made a huge mistake when he said that illegal immigrants that haven’t committed major crimes could be allowed to stay. According to NBC’s Sally Bronston, when asked if he is still in favor of finding a way for millions of illegals to stay in the United States legally, Rubio replied:
If you’re a criminal alien, no, you can’t stay. If you’re someone that hasn’t been here for a very long time, you can’t stay, I don’t think you’re gonna round up and deport 12 million people.
It doesn’t matter that he went on to say, “It is very clear now more than ever that we are not going to be able to do anything on people that are illegally until we first prove to people that illegal immigration is under control and America is safe.” Rubio’s statement is going to make it even harder for him to win the Republican presidential nomination.
I thought Rubio had learned his lesson on his support for amnesty and his Gang of Eight deal with the Democrats. Last February he told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he had learned he was wrong on his approach to immigration reform. You can watch Rubio’s mea culpa at about the 13:25 mark in this video. The Hill had the best write up about it:
“It wasn’t very popular, I don’t know if you know that from some of the folks here,” Rubio said with a smile, earning laughs from the crowd, when asked about his earlier support for the bill by Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“You have 10 or 12 million people in this country, many of whom have lived here for longer than a decade, have not otherwise violated our law other than immigration laws, I get all that,” Rubio said. “But what I’ve learned is you can’t even have a conversation about that until people believe and know, not just believe but it’s proven to them that future illegal immigration will be controlled.”
[. . .]
Rubio said recent border issues had proven his earlier approach was wrong, calling a border security first approach “the only way forward.”
“You can’t just tell people you’re going to secure the border, we’re going to do E-Verify. You have to do that, they have to see it, they have to see it working, and then they’re going to have a reasonable conversation with you about the other parts, but they’re not going to even want to talk about that until that’s done first. And what’s happened over the last two years, the migratory crisis this summer, the two executive orders, that’s even more true than it’s been.”
I saw that speech and interview. I was impressed with Rubio’s CPAC 2015 speech. I thought it showed that Rubio understood that his work as part of the Gang of Eight was a mistake. The GOP Establishment — the business, contractor and donor class of the Republican Party heaped high praise on Rubio for it. Time magazine declared him “The Republican Savior” on its cover. But the grass roots, the Conservative base including the TEA Party types that enabled Rubio to overcome the Establishment choice for the senate seat he won felt betrayed.
I was hopeful that the grass roots accept that Rubio had seen the error of his ways and would forgive him. I have been dismayed over the last year as that has not come to pass. There is too much distrust and today’s statement will just reinforce that.
The grass roots don’t support amnesty, a path to citizenship, or even legal status for illegals, because they know it will only lead to more illegal immigration. They remember that we tried such a shenanigan before. Under President Reagan we adopted the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (“IRCA”). That “immigration reform” legalized four million illegal aliens. IRCA was a monumental failure. Thirty-odd years later there are millions more illegal aliens to legalize.
I think Rubio is the most articulate politician there is. When I first met him at the first Gathering, I was convinced that someday he would be president. Now, for the first time, I’m beginning to doubt that. I don’t think 2016 will be his year.
Cross posted at RedState.