Jennifer, while I personally think that there is a reasonable explanation for Giuliani’s immigration policies as mayor given the reality he was facing, while his stellar law enforcement credentials lead me to believe that he would be the candidate best-suited to figure out a way to secure our border, and while I think Mitt Romney’s, shall we say, holier-than-now attitude is absurd, I am under no illusions as to the political reality. And to borrow a favorite phrase of Rudy’s, the reality is, he took positions as mayor that are quite different from much of the conservative base. People who care about immigration follow the issue very closely and are quite aware of those positions. I have received plenty of emails and comments from folks over the years about how Rudy “ran an Amnesty City for illegals.”
Romney no doubt is portraying his credentials on immigration as being greater than they actually were, because no matter how you spin it, cracking down on illegal immigrants simply was not a major concern of his until his final weeks in office (i.e. weeks before he launched his presidential campaign). Nobody is going to remember him as an anti-illegal immigration crusader as governor, but he was not a lightning rod on this issue by actively making the pro-immigration case as Giuliani did in the 1990s.
Furthermore, in light of the YouTube that came out the other day, Jennifer made the argument that “most voters care much more about what a candidate is presently saying.” If that’s true, than I think it will make things difficult for Giuliani. Right now, he wants to deport criminals, but still supports a pathway to citizenship (with penalties) for those who come here to work, assuming we can actually get control of the borders. While that seems perfectly reasonable to me, I know that to immigration hawks, that is just a roundabout way of describing amnesty. And yet, we know that Romney will have no qualms about moving as far to the right as he needs to on this issue, and shouting “No Amnesty!” has become a fixture in this campaign appearances.
The point is that while I may not see the world the way immigration restrictionists do, I think I have a pretty good idea of how they see the world. I think that given his record, Giuliani has handled this issue brilliantly, but I know that he still has a long way to go to convince conservatives that they can trust him on this issue.
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