Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is advising Republican presidential contenders, especially Jeb Bush, to avoid the Iowa caucuses if they want to have a real chance at winning in 2016.
The Hawkeye State is perceived as having a history of not supporting candidates who favor immigration reform, according to The Daily Beast
, resulting in White House hopefuls taking a tougher anti-immigration position than they really hold.
While jokingly throwing out the idea that Arizona’s primary should replace Iowa’s caucuses on the GOP primary calendar, Flake said, "Often we spend so much time trying to win Iowa, we can’t win the rest of the states."
And he cautioned that potential Republican candidates who support sweeping immigration reform, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, would be better off ducking the state, home to Republican Rep. Steve King, an outspoken opponent of such legislation.
"Some people skip Iowa," Flake told the Beast, while noting that fellow Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain "basically" sidestepped the state when he ran for the presidency in 2008.
"It’s tough to take positions in Iowa that don’t play as well in New Hampshire. So some candidates may just say, 'Hey, we’ll skip it and move on.' And frankly a lot of Republicans appreciate those who come there and say, 'I’m sorry, I just don’t agree with Steve King, or other voices on this issue.'"
Flake is a rare case in Congress of a GOP lawmaker actively pushing for widespread immigration legislation, according to the Beast.
In his border state, reforms could possibly alleviate the heavy education, healthcare and police costs resulting from a massive influx of illegal immigrants.
The senator also called in the interview for the country’s immigration issue to be addressed quickly in next year’s GOP-controlled House and Senate before lawmakers get too wrapped up in preparing for their next election campaigns.
"The closer we get to '16, the tougher it’s going to be, so I hope we start quickly," he said. "When you get closer to any big election, people are more risk-averse. A lot of people see this as a risk, both ways."
Flake told the Beast that some Iowa caucus attendees would gleefully support GOP candidates who hope to create roadblocks to President Barack Obama’s recent executive order on immigration reform. But he warned that the Republican Party needs to look at the bigger presidential picture.
"If we don’t address immigration reform, we’ll find it very difficult, as Republicans, to win national office," Flake said.
"We’re a major political party. We’re expected to have a rational approach on these big issues.
"And on immigration, the party as a whole, I don’t think has had a very rational approach. But we can’t avoid that now. We’re in charge of the House and the Senate."
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