In case you need further evidence that the border crisis has forced the Republican Party further to the right on immigration than even Mitt Romney was in 2012, watch this new ad that GOP Rep. Tom Cotton appears to be running in the Arkansas Senate race against Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor:
The ad, which was put on You Tube by the Pryor campaign, which says it is running statewide, says:
“Our southern border. Chaos and crime. Washington made the mess. Senator Mark Pryor voted for amnesty. Citizenship for illegals. Pryor voted against a border fence three times. And now, Pryor ignores the crisis.”
The ad then mockingly shows footage of Pryor saying: “We have a much more secure border today than we did 10 years ago.” The point is that Pryor’s suggestion that the border is more secure today means he’s ignoring the current crisis of migrants crossing into South Texas.
The ad mirrors the broader GOP posture, which is to treat it as a self-evident fact that the migrant crisis shows a border in chaos. In reality, as the Associated Press has explained, the children crossing the border does not tell the broader story here, which is that various metrics suggest that illegal immigration is actually lower than in recent years.
Indeed, this Cotton ad approaches Grade A Ted Cruz/Steve King demagoguery on this issue. What makes this particularly interesting is that Cotton has been hailed as a candidate who unites the Tea Party with the “GOP establishment.” Yet he is now trafficking in rhetoric about immigration that is well outside the comfort level of many in the “GOP establishment” who favor reform.
The Pryor campaign told Politico’s Morning Score today that Cotton did not announce this ad, a claim that the Morning Score crew, who is very plugged into the Senate races, did not question. If this is true, perhaps it’s due to the fact that this is pretty extreme stuff on an issue where the GOP establishment has been pleading for moderation for years now.
The House GOP, under pressure from hardline elements within the party, voted on Friday to strip protections from immigrants brought to this country illegally as children, and in the process, made it official that the GOP is the party of maximum deportations. Now here is a major GOP establishment Senate candidate mimicking Cruz and King.
I don’t have any idea how this will play in Arkansas. One way to look at it is as a sign that despite the Beltway fawning over Cotton as a unifying figure within the GOP, he’s actually far to the right on a whole range of issues. More broadly, the question is whether this is another sign of what Ed Kilgore calls a “rightward shift of the GOP on immigration-related issues” that is “symptomatic of the party’s basic dynamics.” As Kilgore notes, even GOP figures who had been previously open to reform — such as Marco Rubio and Rick Perry — are lurching rightward on the issue to atone for their previous apostasy:
No wonder there’s more and more talk about Mitt Romney running for president again in 2014. He seems to have been well ahead of the curve in his party in choosing nativists over Latinos as a target audience.
One wonders if we’ll be seeing more ads along these lines.