As I noted earlier, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush managed to muddle the immigration reform debate yesterday, saying he did not favor a path to citizenship because it would conflict with the “rule of law.” Today he tried to mop up the mess, saying he did not really have an objection to a path to citizenship so long as there is no incentive for others to come here illegally.
Also today, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) threw him a lifeline, saying that the two are in the same place on this issue. Rubio has made the case that, with appropriate penalties for those who came here illegally, border enforcement, reform of illegal immigration (including an unskilled labor program) and workplace e-verification, the incentive for future illegal immigration will diminish. So everyone is good, all on the same page, we’re told. Move along.
What is going on?
Some pointed out that the current debate leapfrogged Bush’s book, which was long in the making (as these things usually are). But when he spoke on Monday, surely Jeb Bush knew the debate that had been going on publicly, led by Rubio?
This may be a case of a former governor, not used to such exacting coverage, getting caught up in one aspect (albeit an important one) of his book and not fully appreciating how tenuous the current (partial) consensus was.
Will this have any lasting impact on the debate? Probably not. But it is a lesson for the former governor, who left office in 2007. The news cycle is faster, more exacting and more treacherous, especially on the hottest of the hot button issues. If he is going to run in 2016 (as he hinted he might) I have no doubt he’ll be better prepared after this incident.