Rubio’s balancing act on immigration

A year ago Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the Chicago-born son of Puerto Rican immigrants, called Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) an “extremist” on immigration.

But after hearing Rubio’s pitch last week on his version of the so-called DREAM Act, the liberal Illinois Democrat sang a more positive tune — so much so that some of his colleagues are beginning to rib him about it.

“I was catching all this grief from Democrats: ‘Oh, now you’re Rubio’s best friend.’ ‘Hey, does he have a little office for you when he’s VP?’” Gutierrez recalled in an interview. “There’s no meanness to it — it’s part of the politics of this place.”

The meeting with Gutierrez and top Hispanic Democrats was one of many stops on a Rubio charm offensive as the Florida Republican has engaged in a behind-the-scenes lobbying blitz to sell his proposal that would help children of illegal immigrants gain a more-permanent legal status.

Rubio is working an odd-bedfellows coalition, ranging from hard-line anti-illegal immigration groups like Numbers USA to progressive leaders in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. And as he meets with Democrats, he is actively moving to head off a conservative rebellion, trying to curry support from the influential Heritage Foundation, religious leaders like Richard Land and tea party favorites like Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Rep. Steve King of Iowa.

But the rookie senator is already finding that building a coalition on a hot issue like immigration — in an election year, no less — is an incredibly tough slog.

If his proposal is too tough on enforcement, he’ll lose support from Democrats and Latino advocacy groups. If he softens his proposal too much, he risks turning off conservatives who are approaching Rubio, a rising star in the party, with an open mind. For now, both sides are reluctant to fully embrace his proposals.

“There are significant obstacles,” Rubio, a potential Mitt Romney running mate, told POLITICO. “I’m not saying this is going to be easy and this issue comes with a long history and things that happened before I got here. So I’m dealing with that a little bit, too.”

For now, Rubio’s strategy is to solicit input from key conservatives in his party, who could influence a significant number of Hill Republicans. At the same time, Rubio’s team is trying to woo groups representing children who could be affected by his proposal, a move that would pressure Democrats who claim they’re worried about young people brought to the country illegally through no fault of their own.

“If you want to compare it to the Republicans’ rhetoric, it’s an improvement,” said Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who attended the meeting with Gutierrez and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) last week. “If you want to compare it to what we’ve been proposing with Democrats along with some Republicans, it’s not an improvement.”

Read more at POLITICO.

Comments

Polititainment

Bill Clinton, Usher fundraiser for Dem

In the latest instance of Democrat-celebrity coupling, former President Bill Clinton and singer Usher will join forces at a September 13 fundraiser for Democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia Michelle Nunn.

Eric Roberts: Bush killed James Foley

Actor Eric Roberts on Twitter Monday accused former President George W. Bush of killing American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by an ISIS terrorist in a video posted to YouTube in August.

Palin asks fans to pray for Joan Rivers
Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol are asking their fans to show support for comedian Joan Rivers, an unlikely pal of the Palins. Rivers,81, has been unconscious in the hospital since Thursday after she went into cardiac arrest during a procedure. Palin posted on her popular Facebook page Friday directing fans to a blog post by Bristol. […]
Grover Norquist loved Burning Man
It’s official: Grover Norquist absolutely loved this year’s Burning Man festival. Before the blaze with co-founder of Burning Man Larry Harvey.He has created a wonderful festival/movement/Brigadoon pic.twitter.com/3iq5UzcPYG — Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) August 31, 2014 Burning Man. 65,000 participants. 1000s of works of art. Anyone who walks through BM and only notices nudity tells you only […]
Celebs gin up youth votes for midterms
THE HILL – With young voters more apathetic about voting and government than ever, several organizations are trying to woo the “selfie generation” to the polls this fall. “About half of those who vote in presidential elections do not vote in midterms,” explained Andy Bernstein, executive director of HeadCount, a non-partisan organization that partners with musicians […]

White House

Obama notifies Congress of airstrikes in Iraq
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has sent official notification to Congress of his order for last week’s airstrikes and humanitarian aid drops to help Iraqis threatened by Islamic State militants. The White House on Monday released a letter formally letting Congress’ leaders know that Obama approved the mission that repelled Sunni fighters in the northern Shiite […]
Obama: The world seems really messy because of ‘social media’

President Barack Obama, speaking at yet another fundraiser with a script that's been recycled more than a Hollywood romantic comedy, had an unlikely culprit for the world's problems.

White House scrambles to control the fallout from Obama’s ‘We don’t have a strategy yet’ comment
It’s hard to imagine that there was any other reaction than full panic from White House staffers after President Obama uttered a fateful gaffe Thursday afternoon, “We don’t have a strategy yet.” The line quickly exploded on Twitter and on television — though not quite as much as the president’s tan suit — as it […]
GOP: ‘He’s not a king’
THE HILL – Whether lamenting the so-called vacationer-in-chief’s swing of a golf club or criticizing his handling of the healthcare rollout, Republicans are getting in the habit of comparing President Obama to a monarch. “It’s one thing after another. You know he says he has no choice but to act. He says he has a pen […]
Obama’s Democratic fundraising just might ruin Labor Day weekend for the rest of us

Barely having returned from a 15-day vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Obama will spend is Labor Day weekend traveling to support his Democratic friends. The problem is, this means that Americans planning to take seaplanes to East Hampton, Montauk, Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket won't be able to travel themselves.

Congress

Dem candidate: Republicans 'worse than ISIL'

Jesse Smith, a Democrat running for Alabama's 3rd Congressional district, compared Republicans to ISIL (or ISIS) militants on Twitter Monday, asserting that the GOP is "worse" than the terrorists that have wreaked havoc in Syria and Iraq.

When Congress was popular
THE HILL — If you’re not a paid staffer or blood relative, as the joke goes, you probably hate Congress. The institution is so unpopular that voters were more positive about brussels sprouts, head lice and root canals in one recent survey. But there have been a handful of times over the last 100 years […]
Cruz highlights issues for 2014, 2016 elections
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) elicited huge cheers from the audience at the Americans For Prosperity’s “Defending the American Dream Summit” Saturday when he vowed Republicans would take back control of the U.S. Senate and “retire” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “I’m convinced we’re going to win in 2014 and 2016 is going to be even better,” […]
IRS says Lerner's Blackberry 'destroyed'

A senior IRS lawyer has said in a sworn declaration that Lois Lerner's BlackBerry was intentionally destroyed after Congress had begun to investigate her involvement in IRS targeting of conservative groups.

Youth impact reason enough to pass jobs bills
The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means is in the midst of releasing 40 reasons over the course of 40 days that the Senate should take up the 40 jobs bills the House has already passed. While most of their reasons have focused on general unemployment and economic growth statistics, they turned their attention […]