Ruben Navarrette defends John McCain from charges of being a Republican, of being loyal to his courntry, and of flip-flopping on amnesty.
October 25, 2008
Recently, I was on a Latino-themed radio show defending John McCain. The defendant was accused of abandoning comprehensive immigration reform, turning his back on Latino supporters, and associating with a bad crowd (read: Republicans). I didn't give an inch. I was the only person in the discussion who actually knew McCain - from my stint 10 years ago as a reporter at a newspaper in Arizona - and I could attest to the fact that the senator had always gone to bat for Latinos. At one point, another guest scolded me in frustration: "Look, it's not about John McCain. It's about the Republican Party!"
McCain can defend himself. During a telephone interview the other day as he was traveling between campaign stops in Pennsylvania, he told me that he hopes Latinos will judge him on his own merits and not punish him for the sins of his party, which he readily acknowledges.
"During the immigration debate," he said, "it's very clear that a lot of the language and rhetoric that was used (by Republicans) made Latino citizens believe that we were anti-Latino." [More]
McCain blames Tom Tancredo, who once sent him over a plate of nachos when he was in restaurant.
"Throughout our history, we have had people who stoked nativist instincts," said McCain. Yes, Senator, those people got elected. Read what he has to say about "flip-flopping" and what he'd do about amnesty during his first 100 days as President.
. When I asked what he says to those who accuse him of flip-flopping on comprehensive reform in settling for an enforcement-only approach, I caught a glimpse of the famous McCain temper.
"I say 'Stop!' We failed twice, despite efforts of weeks on the floor of the Senate, on a bipartisan basis with incredible support," he said. "Americans want the border secured. So is that a flip-flop when you fail twice after weeks of debate and discussion and being harmed dramatically in my chances to gain the nomination of my party? It's baloney!"
Still, McCain pledged that comprehensive immigration reform would be something he would tackle in the first 100 days of his presidency.
"Whether I have to go back to the United States Senate, which I don't believe I will, or go to the presidency, the whole issue of comprehensive immigration reform will be among my highest priorities," McCain said, "because we have to address this issue."
The candidate, reflecting on the support he has traditionally enjoyed with Latino voters, called it an honor to represent "so many patriotic and great, wonderful Americans who are the heart and soul of the country."
"I'm confident that, as many more of those Latino voters focus in the next 14 days, we'll do well," he said.
In real life, Latino voters favor Obama by as much as 66%-23%.