Republican presidential candidates want to talk jobs and the economy but the voters want to hear about immigration. In stop after stop, the candidates find that when the question and answer session begins the first up is border security, The Washington Post
Mitt Romney, at a town hall in Keene, N.H., and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., at one in South Carolina, both expected to spend their time on the economy, jobs and the deficit. Both instead found topic No. 1 immigration, the Post reported.
Republican primary voters have brought up border security in back yards, opera houses and recreation halls in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. “Immigration is not even close to the top issue for most Republicans today, but it is an issue that is heavy with symbolic importance to Republican voters,” GOP pollster Jon Lerner told the Post. “If a candidate is squishy on immigration that symbolically suggests that he’s probably unreliable on a whole host of other conservative issues.”
Romney, Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rich Perry have all said that the country must first secure the border before addressing any immigration reform. However, the Post reports that Perry’s position on the border and a fence is not so simple. In 2007, he called the proposed construction of a fence “idiocy,” saying “it absolutely would not work.”
“Fencing a 2,000-mile border is not practical,” Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan told the Post. “The governor does and has always supported what he calls ‘strategic fencing’ in urban and high-trafficked areas.”
Perry is also taking heat from Republicans for a law he signed allowing any student, regardless of citizenship status, who has lived in Texas for three years and is a Texas high school graduate to get in-state tuition at state colleges. A year ago he was critical of Arizona’s tough new immigration law, according to the Post.
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