House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning loss to tea party-supported political newcomer Dave Brat in Virginia's Republican primary Tuesday is proof that the GOP has difficulty fighting the issue of immigration reform, MSNBC chief political analyst Chuck Todd says.
"We’ve seen immigration almost destroy John McCain’s candidacy," Todd said on the network's "Morning Joe" show Wednesday. "Arguably it did; he revived it because nobody could fill the gap back in ’08."
Immigration reform also destroyed Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaign for the presidency, and allowed 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney to survive a conservative challenge, said Todd.
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"How much more evidence do we need that immigration will absolutely tear the Republican Party apart whenever they’re dealing with it as an issue inside their party?" Todd said.
Show host Joe Scarborough commented that Republicans, to push through any form of immigration reform, will need a "strong leader that knows how to articulate the vision on why we need comprehensive immigration reform. You look at the polls, and there are a lot of Republicans out there that actually believe we need immigration reform."
But amnesty will continue to be a problem, Todd contended.
Meanwhile, he described Cantor's loss as "the perfect storm."
"Anybody wants to say tea party, tea party, tea party," said Todd. "That's sort of a cheap and easy thing to say nationally, but when you think about it in particular, it's immigration. Particularly in these Southern races, we see that issue animates the base like no other."
Immigration, in a way, is "hotter" than any other issue animating the tea party.
"And throw in the news that happened in the last 48 hours, right, the flooding of the border by unaccompanied minors. It gave urgency to Brat's message, right?" he continued. "Oh, by the way, throw in a low turnout primary, and it all came together."
Meanwhile, he said, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham held on to a primary win because he faced many opponents, not only one, like Cantor.
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