Why is the Republican Party attacking our two major presidential candidates?
By Rachel Alexander
The Republican National Committee chairman, Mel Martinez, has come out criticizing the GOP's two top candidates for president, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney for their positions on resolving illegal immigration. What is wrong with this picture? Giuliani and Romney are considered RINOs to many Republicans, with track records to prove it, so the Republican Party is doing Republicans no favors by attacking them for being too conservative. So far Giuliani and Romney are the only two Republican candidates with any real chance at winning the primary election (and if the RNC is that liberal on illegal immigration then it certainly won't support the more conservative Fred Thompson if he enters the race), so why is the RNC trying to scare off the conservative base even more from supporting these realistic candidates?
After the Senate immigration bill fiasco, most Republicans, regardless of their stance on illegal immigration, came to a consensus that the bill had too many problems - no surprise considering it was mostly Democrats who supported it. Most Americans are gradually becoming resigned to the fact that Hillary Clinton is probably going to become our next president, unless something extraordinary takes place, like capturing Osama bin Laden. If Republicans want to keep control of the White House - which in fact is supposed to be the primary responsibility of the RNC - it is not the time to be attacking our leading candidates, who ironically represent the views of the middle-of-the-road RNC leadership better than the rest of candidates.
Giuliani is no illegal immigration hawk. He has tried to distance himself from his record in the past as New York mayor. However, even though he says he would emphasize enforcement issues more as president, he still takes a much more nuanced position than hardcore conservatives. In a recent campaign appearance in Boone, Iowa, he stated that he would not require the deportation of illegal immigrants who have children born in the U.S., unless they've committed crimes. He says he will move on to comprehensive immigration reform eventually - issues like paths to citizenship, guest worker program - after the borders are secured. He describes himself as "very practical about illegal immigration." "Good people would be given a chance," he said. "They'd have to earn it, they'd have to pay penalties and back taxes, they'd have to be able to read, write and speak English before they could become citizens. Bad people, or not such good people, would be thrown out depending on how you decided that."
Romney has criticized Giuliani recently for being soft on illegal immigration, but as recently as November 2005 Romney supported the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, and in 2006 expressed support for a path to citizenship. Here in Arizona, where illegal immigration has been ranked by residents as the #1 issue facing the state, extremely conservative Senator Jon Kyl suffered a severe backlash for supporting the Senate immigration bill this summer. Even though Kyl is considered one of the most solid conservatives in the U.S. Senate, with a lifetime rating of 96.9 from the American Conservative Union (presidential candidate Duncan Hunter only has a 92 and Tom Tancredo is barely any higher than Kyl at 97.8), the outcry from Arizona Republicans was enough to make him back off and vote against the bill's passage at one point.
So what is going on at Republican Party headquarters? The party leadership is supposed to represent the party, not the interests of a select few. Like it or not, Giuliani and Romney, arguably the two most liberal Republicans in the race for president and the only two official candidates with a realistic chance at winning, have chosen positions on this issue which fall somewhere between the liberal wing of the party and the conservatives. They should not be taken down by the very party which is supposed to represent them. Something is very wrong at Republican headquarters, which needs to be addressed before we lose this election.
Rachel Alexander is the founder of the wildly popular Intellectual Conservative.