The New York Times' Adam Nagourney stated in a March 24 online piece that aides to Sen. John McCain "are beginning to see a general election upside ... to the problems that Mr. McCain's support of immigration legislation caused him in the primaries." However, Nagourney did not mention that McCain reacted to those perceived "problems" by abandoning his own comprehensive immigration reform plan.
In a March 24 New York Times online piece, reporter Adam Nagourney stated that aides to Sen. John McCain "are beginning to see a general election upside ... to the problems that Mr. McCain's support of immigration legislation caused him in the primaries." But Nagourney did not report that McCain in fact reacted to those perceived "problems" by abandoning his own comprehensive immigration reform proposal during his campaign for the Republican nomination, saying that he would no longer support it if it came up for a vote in the Senate. McCain now says that "we've got to secure the borders first" -- a position at odds with his prior assertion that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective. The Times itself reported on McCain's reversal on immigration in a March 3 article by reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, which stated that McCain has "meandered over the years from position to position on some topics, particularly as he has tried to court the conservatives who have long distrusted him." The article noted in particular that McCain "moved from his original position on immigration" and "went so far at a debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in January to say that if his original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, he would not vote for it."
Indeed, a November 4, 2007, Associated Press article about McCain's change in position reported that his prior support for comprehensive immigration reform "hurt him politically" and quoted McCain as stating: "I understand why you would call it a, quote, shift. ... I say it is a lesson learned about what the American people's priorities are. And their priority is to secure the borders." During the January 30 Republican debate response that Bumiller cited, McCain said that "[t]he people want the border secured first," in explaining why he would no longer support his own bill:
JANET HOOK (Los Angeles Times staff writer): Senator McCain, let me just take the issue to you, because you obviously have been very involved in it. During this campaign, you, like your rivals, have been putting the first priority, heaviest emphasis, on border security. But your original immigration proposal back in 2006 was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already here.
What I'm wondering is, and you seem to be downplaying that part, at this point, if your original proposal came to a vote in the Senate floor, would you vote for it?
McCAIN: It won't. It won't. That's why we went through the debate.
HOOK: I know, but what if it did?
McCAIN: No, I would not, because we know what the situation is today. The people want the border secured first. And so to say that that would come to the floor of the Senate, it won't. We went through various amendments which prevented that ever, that proposal.
But look, we're all on agreement as to what we need to do. Everybody knows that we can fight some more about it, about who wanted this or who wanted that. But the fact is, we all know the American people want the border secured first.
We will secure the borders first when I am president of the United States. I know how to do that. I come from a border state, where we know about building walls and vehicle barriers and sensors and all of the things necessary. I will have the border state governors certify the borders are secured, and then we will move on to the other aspects of this issue.
Probably as importantly is tamper-proof biometric documents, which then, unless an employer hires someone with those documents, that employer will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And that will cause a lot of people to leave voluntarily. There's 2 million people who are here who have committed crimes. They have to be rounded up and deported.
And we're all basically in agreement there are humanitarian situations; it varies with what -- how they've been here, et cetera, et cetera.
We are all committed to carrying out the mandate of the American people, which is a national security issue, which is securing the borders. That was part of the original proposal. But the American people didn't trust or have confidence in us that we would do it. So we now know we have to secure the borders first. And that is what needs to be done. That's what I'll do as president of the United States.
From Nagourney's March 24 New York Times online piece, headlined "One Bruising Scenario for Clinton":
Along the same lines, Mrs. [Sen. Hillary] Clinton would get some wind if she trounces Mr. [Sen. Barack] Obama in the June 3 contest in Puerto Rico. Mr. Obama has had trouble in competing for Latino voters. And that has been duly noted by Mr. McCain's aides who said they are beginning to see a general election upside -- among Hispanic voters in a contest against Mr. Obama -- to the problems that Mr. McCain's support of immigration legislation caused him in the primaries. (That is one reason why the endorsement that Mr. Obama won last week from Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who is one of the country's leading elected Hispanic officials, had significance going far beyond the Democratic nominating contest).