It is difficult to remember how distorting the right-wing echo chamber can be, especially on a hot-button issue such as immigration reform. But all of the callers on talk radio are against it! (A few thousand?) But look at the conservative blogs! (Most are against, but only a fraction of the GOP base reads them. And many are positive on the effort.) What is telling is the absence of any grass-roots, well-organized opposition to the Gang of Eight plan.
On the other hand, proponents of immigration reform are pulling out all the stops. The American Action Network (AAN) announced today “a $300,000 television advertising campaign to build support for the U.S. Senate immigration legislation calling on Congress to ‘end de facto amnesty'”:
That’s pretty effective, in large part because it draws on a mound of polling data that confirm that if the details of the bill are presented, the Gang of Eight plan draws high levels of support, including from Republicans.
The ad also shows that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is a formidable communicator. It can’t be stressed enough how much the Gang of Eight plan is tied to Rubio personally. His presence as the spokesman for the effort has softened the harshest attacks. He continues to draw enthusiastic support. The Rubio team sends around a link to this Tamp Bay Times story:
Speaking to 600 diehard Pasco Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio on Tuesday night cast the sensitive work of immigration reform as a national security issue that can’t be ignored.
“We have to deal with the people who are here now, and I want to know who they are so I can run them through a background check and a national security check,” Rubio said in his keynote speech at the local party’s annual Reagan Day dinner fundraiser.
The crowd seemed to be with him, responding with big applause when he said none of the 11 million people in the country illegally would have access to food stamps or welfare under a bill proposed in the Senate.
The only protesters outside were liberals upset about his vote on anti-gun legislation.
If Republican lawmakers want to get on board with immigration reform but are genuinely concerned about voters back home, they should go talk to the voters. Lawmakers might find that when voters hear what is in the bill, they like it. And if the nervous lawmakers need help, Rubio probably would be glad to come along.