In Arkansas, GOP Senate candidate Tom Cotton is running an ad attacking Senator Mark Pryor over the border crisis that veers headlong into Ted Cruz/Steve King territory. In Michigan, GOP Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land is up with another border spot that is almost as bad.
It is increasingly sinking in with the political classes that the border crisis has pushed the Republican Party to the right on immigration — exactly the opposite direction party officials concluded the party should move after the 2012 election suggested it needs to be recast as more inclusive and welcoming.
Today David Nakamura and Sebastian Payne have a must read spelling out the internal party dynamics driving this — and note the alarm coming from a Mitt Romney adviser about what’s happening:
The crisis has empowered conservatives, whose more restrictionist views on the crisis and the broader issue of dealing with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country have taken precedence in the party. House Republicans are pushing for more deportations, and several of the party’s prospective 2016 White House contenders are moving to align themselves with the GOP’s pro-enforcement wing.
The tough rhetoric can help Republicans with their goal of making the mid-terms a referendum on Obama’s leadership in their bid to win the Senate. And it helps aspiring presidential candidates as they seek early support among conservatives who will be important in deciding the nomination.
But the strategy runs counter to the party’s announcement — after losing the presidential race two years ago — that its future depends largely on broadening its appeal to minority groups and that its viability as a national force in 2016 and beyond depends on making inroads with Latinos, one of the fastest-growing voting blocs.
“This is a short-term political gain for Republicans,” said Charles Spies, a former Mitt Romney campaign aide who is part of a coalition of Republicans advocating for immigration reform. “The problem, of course, comes on the national scale. . . . Without a friendly posture towards [Hispanics], we still face a massive demographic problem.”
The beauty of this is that Mitt Romney’s position — self deportation — was actually to the left of where Republicans are today, as I’ve tried to show. Indeed, GOP operatives with an eye on long term demographics have been screaming at the party for many months now that it is moving in exactly the wrong direction. Yet, as Nakamura and Payne show, that trend has only hastened, because the current crisis has strengthened the “restrictionist” forces inside the GOP.
This strengthening has also been fed by the apparent belief of GOP leaders that keeping the base in a lather is strategically crucial for the coming midterm elections. That may prove right. But it’s also locking Republicans into a far-right position heading into the next national election. And 2016 presidential hopefuls such as Rick Perry and Ted Cruz are seeking to align themselves with those “restrictionist” forces, which raises the possibility that the GOP primary debate on immigration will be, if anything, worse than the one that damaged Romney in 2012.
There’s been a lot of talk about Mitt Romney running for president one more time. It would be interesting to know what he thinks the GOP’s current posture on the issue means for the party’s chances in the next national election.
* PRO-IMMIGRATION REFORM REPUBLICAN WINS EASILY: Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander easily won his primary yesterday, despite his opponents attacks on his vote for the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill, and Robert Costa and Sean Sullivan sum up the meaning of it:
His survival is a testament to an emerging political reality: Republicans who support reform can survive the conservative backlash. It was also another demonstration of how much immigration has been overshadowed on the trail by other issues — in Tennessee, by health care and the economy. Alexander is one of three Republican senators who voted for this session’s sweeping reform bill…the other two — Sens. Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins — also skated to primary wins and avoided extended bouts over their votes.
GOP pollsters have long said primary voters don’t oppose reform with the vehemence some claim, and that now seems obviously true. Yet we were told endlessly that Republicans can’t, just can’t, embrace reform and risk the fearsome wrath of the right.
* OBAMA REENGAGES IN IRAQ, ALBEIT RELUCTANTLY: Last night the President ordered a limited airborne mission over Iraq, one primarily focused on dropping food and water but also authorizing limited airstrikes if necessary to block an advance on the Kurdish capitol. Peter Baker gets at the rationale:
Aides said his hand was not forced until ISIS won a series of swift and stunning victories last weekend and Wednesday night against the Kurds in the north, who have been a loyal and reliable American ally, especially compared to the Baghdad government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. ISIS threats to wipe out Yazidis and other religious minorities trapped on Mount Sinjar, they said, added to the urgency.
The move is being criticized by opponents as a step down a slippery slope back into the morass and by proponents of the initial invasion as proof Obama should have forced Maliki to accept an agreement allowing us to stay. (Though there may not have been any way to actually do that, putting aside whether it was even desirable in the first place.)
* WHAT IRAQ MOVE TELLS US ABOUT OBAMA: Michael Crowley does a nice job explaining the rationale driving Obama’s decision to reengage in Iraq, and showing that there is a doctrine of sorts underlying it:
In announcing his Libya action, Obama explained that the U.S. can’t intervene everywhere something awful is happening. But, he argued, the U.S. should intervene in those cases where limited military action is likely to save many lives with low risks…Why not Syria? Or for that matter the Democratic Republic of Congo, or the Central African Republic, or anywhere else that innocents are dying every day? Because, Obama would surely say, the nature of those conflicts make limited U.S. intervention with clear and achievable goals impossible….Just because we intervene in some places doesn’t mean we have to intervene everywhere.
As Crowley rightly notes, this doctrine is “messy.”
* INFLUX OF MIGRANTS SLOWS: The latest on the border crisis:
Nearly 63,000 unaccompanied migrant children have been apprehended at the Southern border since October, but…that influx slowed down considerably last month, according to statistics released Thursday from the Department of Homeland Security. In July, 5,508 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. That compares to the more than 10,000 minors who were caught in both May and June.
There’s still a long way to go, but if the Obama administration is seen as managing this immediate crisis, it could help clear political space for executive action on deportations this fall.
* TIME FOR ‘TRICKLE UP’ ECONOMICS: Paul Krugman takes a whack at the foundation of conservative economics, showing that evidence is mounting that inequality actually hurts economic growth, and that efforts to combat it help the economy, rather than inequality being the necessary by-product of growth:
If you look systematically at the international evidence on inequality, redistribution, and growth — which is what researchers at the I.M.F. did — you find that lower levels of inequality are associated with faster, not slower, growth. Furthermore, income redistribution at the levels typical of advanced countries (with the United States doing much less than average) is “robustly associated with higher and more durable growth.” That is, there’s no evidence that making the rich richer enriches the nation as a whole, but there’s strong evidence of benefits from making the poor less poor….making our economy fairer would also make it richer. Goodbye, trickle-down; hello, trickle-up.
In other words, Krugman argues that taxing the job creators (who have long been presumed to need the incentive of making as much as possible to drive growth) to help the poor actually helps growth.
* AND ANOTHER OBAMACARE ‘HORROR STORY’ FIZZLES: Karl Rove’s Crossroads is up with an ad bashing Colorado Senator Mark Udall that suggests the woman featured in the ad “had to go back to work” to afford her new health plan under the law. But in a follow-up interview with KDVR, the woman says that while she opposes the law, the ACA isn’t the reason she returned to work.
The specifics of this ad aside, the larger context here is that at this point, Obamacare is getting talked about far more in outside group ads than by the GOP candidates themselves.