Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he's learned he was wrong on his approach to immigration reform.You know what, Marco? The base doesn't want to "have a reasonable conversation ... about the other parts" -- not now, not in some future right-wing utopia with a border sealed as tight as the one between North and South Korea, not ever. The base doesn't want to hear you say you "get all that" after you've talked about how long many undocumented immigrants have lived here. The base doesn't "get all that." The base doesn't care.
Rubio, a onetime Tea Party favorite whose support for a comprehensive immigration reform package hurt him with the GOP base, told the conservative crowd that he now understands U.S. borders must be secured before anything else can be done....
"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....."
Maybe you can make vague references to comprehensive immigration reform if you're not under a cloud of suspicion. But if you're a heretic like Rubio, even a reformed one, you'd better overcorrect.
That's what Mitt Romney did in 2012 on universal health care. Yes, he was highly suspect as a result of Romneycare, but you really have to hand it to him: He promised Obamacare repeal at every possible moment, in just about every speech and every ad. He conveyed the impression that he hated Obamacare with the fury of a thousand suns. That still wouldn't have been enough if Romney hadn't had the money to prevail in the primaries, but he still needed to position himself that way on the most important issue for Republican voters or he probably would have lost the nomination, huge war chest notwithstanding.
Rubio doesn't have Romney's cash (and Jeb Bush is making certain that he'll never get his hands on serious money), but a hard line is his only hope for a credible run. If he doesn't want to be an ultra-hardliner on this, he should at least do what Romney did in 2012: go vague when talking about what happens after the glorious day when he gets the border nice and sealed. He should sound punitive (I don't believe "self-deportation" talk hurt Romney one bit with voters in his party). Otherwise, he should just give up the race now.
And if you think the base will buy what Rubio is selling read this Free Republic thread.