washingtonpost.com
Huckabee Talks Tough on Immigration

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

THE AD

Mike Huckabee: It ought to be at least as difficult to get across an international border as it is to get on an airplane in our own home town.

Announcer: Mike Huckabee will fight to secure our borders.

Huckabee: We need to make it clear that we will say no to amnesty and no to sanctuary cities. Our borders have to be secured -- no amnesty. And our government has failed us. Build a border fence. Secure the border, and do it now.

ANALYSIS

Huckabee, who has garnered favorable media attention for a compassionate approach to illegal immigrants, is trying to neutralize criticism that he is "soft" on an issue that looms large in the Republican primary.

This ad, airing in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, does not mention that the former Arkansas governor praised President Bush's legislation, which provided a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. It also ignores his proposal to grant in-state college tuition to some high-achieving students whose parents are in the country illegally, which Huckabee recently defended by saying: "We are a better country than to punish children for what their parents did." Huckabee also opposed an Arkansas measure to deny public services to illegal immigrants and said last year that some critics of such immigrants are "driven by just sheer racism."

By focusing solely on the border-security part of the debate -- and even omitting his own proposal for making illegal immigrants return to their home countries and reapply for admission -- Huckabee is fudging his record and trying to cast himself as what an on-screen graphic calls an "authentic conservative."

A second ad, released yesterday, shows the preacher's softer side, beginning with a picture of Huckabee as a young boy. He talks about understanding people's needs "when you grow up and life's a struggle" and boasts of providing health coverage to 70,000 uninsured children.

Video of this ad can be found at www.washingtonpost.com/politics.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company