Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) ideas on immigration reform “bode well” for the possibility of bipartisan cooperation on the issue, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.
Asked about a weekend Wall Street Journal interview in which the freshman tea-party favorite and potential 2016 White House contender voiced support for reforming the country’s immigration system, Carney told reporters at Tuesday’s daily news briefing, “We hope that it signals a change in the Republican approach to this issue.”
Carney declined to answer, however, when asked why President Obama has not yet picked up the phone to talk with Rubio about the issue.
It’s not the first time that the issue of communication between the White House and the Florida Republican has reared its head. During the summer of the 2012 campaign, when Rubio appeared to be making moves toward unveiling a scaled-back version of the DREAM Act, the White House preempted the freshman senator by announcing that Obama would take executive action to halt the deportations of some young undocumented immigrants.
One week later, in a speech to national Hispanic leaders in Orlando, Fla., Rubio accused Obama of playing politics on the issue.
“I don’t care who gets the credit,” Rubio said at the time. “I don’t. But it exposes the fact that this issue is all about politics for some people. Not just Democrats, Republicans too.”
For the moment, the gun control debate has overshadowed the battle over immigration reform. But Carney maintained Tuesday that the issue is a “high priority” for the president in his second term.
"There is no question that as we move forward with immigration reform -- comprehensive immigration reform -- that it will involve engagement with Democrats and Republicans, and you can expect that that will happen," Carney said. "Again, to my knowledge, Senator Rubio has yet to put anything on paper or draw up any legislation. We welcome reports of his positions and look forward to working with him and other Republicans in pursuit of comprehensive immigration reform because it's the right thing to do for the country, and the president considers it a high priority."