McCain's Tough Immigration Stance Riles Critics

Monday, 23 Aug 2010 09:08 PM

By Dan Weil

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Sen. John McCain’s switch to a staunch position against illegal immigration will likely push him past former U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth in tomorrow’s Republican primary for his Senate seat, experts agree.

The latest Rasmussen Reports poll, released July 26, shows McCain leading Hayworth 54 percent to 34 percent.

In years past, McCain had worked with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., on creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

But now his emphasis is on border protection. And that’s a winning argument with voters, given that Arizona serves as the point of entry for an estimated 50 percent of illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Ironically enough, McCain’s flip-flop may end up alienating both his former friends on the left and his newfound allies on the right.

Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., who has campaigned with McCain since the early 1980s, tells Bloomberg, it will be tough for McCain to revert to his earlier liberal stance.

“In this election, he’s clearly redefined himself,” Kolbe said. “To go back and play the role of the maverick again is just going to be tough.”

But conservative critics aren’t so sure.

“I still think he’s for amnesty,” Mike Vyne, a member of Arizona’s Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, told Bloomberg.

State Sen. Russell Pearce, author of Arizona’s tough new immigration law, feels the same way.

“When he wins, he’ll go back to being the old John McCain,” Pearce said at a tea party rally, Bloomberg reports. “He’s got allies on the far left, and he’ll go back to them.”

As for the primary race, Hayworth was damaged by McCain ads calling him a "huckster." The spots showed clips of Hayworth in an infomercial telling viewers they can get free government money.

The McCain campaign obviously convinced Martha Moloney, a 72-year-old church worker from Mesa, who told Associated Press, "I think McCain's truthful. J.D. Hayworth sure isn't. He's a liar."

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