David Gregory Ignores Rubio's Shift To Hardline Immigration Stance To Claim He Could “Bring Conservatives Around” On The Issue

Former Meet the Press host David Gregory argued on CNN that Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio could “bring conservatives around, potentially, on immigration,” failing to note that Rubio has changed his stance on immigration, walking back his previous support for comprehensive reform while gradually adopting extreme conservative positions.

David Gregory Suggests Marco Rubio Could “Bring Conservatives Around” To More Moderate Immigration Positions ...

David Gregory Suggests Marco Rubio “Can Bring Conservatives Around, Potentially, On Immigration.” After Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) finished third in the February 1 Iowa Republican caucuses,Gregory argued on CNN's New Day that Rubio could be “the future of the [Republican] party,” suggesting that he could“bring conservatives around” from their current positions on immigration:

DAVID GREGORY: Really to answer your question, I think Chris, the contrast of Marco Rubio against Hillary Clinton -- the future of the party, the past of another party -- you really have a future play there. He can bring conservatives around, potentially, on immigration. He's strong on national defense. Don't forget, he came of age with Tea Party support. He can put it all together. And I think you have to say he is the establishment favorite at this point. My earlier point, though, is that the unconventional candidate in the form of Trump, in the form of Cruz, still got most of the votes, over 50  percent. [CNN, New Day2/2/16]

... But Fails To Note That Rubio Previously Changed His Immigration Stance Under Conservative Pressure To Adopt Extreme Positions

Rubio Was Part Of The Bipartisan Gang Of Eight That Crafted Comprehensive Immigration Reform In 2013. According to a November 2015 New York Times article, Rubio previously helped craft a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform package that was seen as “an opportunity ... to be part of a major legislative endeavor that could forge the kind of compromise” needed to pass immigration reform. Rubio remarked during the Gang of Eight immigration reform push that he “never had any problem with the path to citizenship.” The Times also reported that “Mr. Rubio had already been working on his own immigration plan” before he was asked to join the bipartisan group of senators:

At the time, it looked like a smart move, both for Mr. Rubio and his party.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, had just lost the election after he received the smallest share of the Hispanic vote in modern presidential elections: a mere 27 percent. Party leaders commissioned an audit of their situation, which concluded that the party would have to substantially improve its standing with Hispanics if it ever hoped to occupy the White House again.

Mr. Rubio, who harbored presidential ambitions, saw an opportunity: to be part of a major legislative endeavor that could forge the kind of compromise that had become so rare in the nation's capital, the kind that conveys both seriousness and a sense of accomplishment.

The Democrats saw the boyish and charismatic Cuban-American as an eloquent spokesman and partner who could help them sell an immigration deal to conservatives on Capitol Hill.

A freshman senator, Mr. Rubio had spent much of his time on Capitol Hill building up his foreign policy portfolio. With assignments on the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Intelligence Committees, he traveled to war zones including Libya and Afghanistan, and attended global conferences on national security.

Involving himself in an effort as combustible as immigration would be a huge risk for any Republican, but especially for one who owed his political career to the Tea Party. Yet the issue was personal for Mr. Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants who had grown up in a Miami neighborhood where Spanish was often the first and only language used. [New York Times, 11/14/15]

After Receiving Blowback, Rubio Backed Away From Supporting Comprehensive Immigration Reform. After being harshly criticized for supporting comprehensive reform, Rubio “backed off” his previous support for the Gang of Eight's immigration reform bill “and said he no longer favor[ed] a comprehensive approach to immigration,” according to Bloomberg News. Rubio said he instead preferred a “piece-by-piece” approach to reforming the immigration system. In April 2015,“Rubio wouldn't say if he'd sign his own bill into law” and instead called the question about supporting immigration reform “hypothetical.” [Bloomberg News, 6/9/15]

Politico: Rubio Made A “Notable Shift On Immigration.” In a November 4, 2015, article, Politico wrote that Rubio gradually moved away from his previous support of immigration reform, and in a “subtle but notable shift” he “sharpened his position” and called for the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), a policy that allows work permits to be granted to younger undocumented immigrants who meet several conditions. The article explained that Rubio had previously called for the executive action to be repealed once Congress “passed immigration reform” to replace it, but now Rubio feels “DACA will have to end, even if Congress never hands him an immigration bill to sign if he is elected as president”:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took a subtle but notable shift on immigration on Wednesday, declaring that he would end a program designed to protect young undocumented immigrants in the United States, even if a congressional overhaul doesn't happen under his watch.

Previously, Rubio had said as president he would not immediately revoke the so-called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program -- a 2012 directive from President Barack Obama that shielded so-called DREAMers who came here illegally at a young age from being deported.

Rubio indicated that he hoped the program would end because lawmakers would have passed immigration reform to replace the executive action.

But on Wednesday in New Hampshire, Rubio sharpened his position: DACA will have to end, even if Congress never hands him an immigration bill to sign if he is elected as president.


The Florida senator - who played a key role in the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform efforts in 2013 - conveyed similar remarks earlier this year, but expressed less urgency about revoking Obama's action. [Politico11/4/15]

The Washington Post: Rubio Is Shifting To A “Hard-Line Posture” On Immigration. In a November 4, 2015 article,The Washington Post reported that Rubio “went further than he has before” on immigration, “hardening his opposition” on DACA. The Post highlighted his multiple “shifts on the issue” of immigration reform from once “co-sponsor[ing] ... comprehensive immigration legislation in the Senate” to calling for DACA to end with reforms, to his current stance of ending DACA without reforms put in place. From The Washington Post:

Marco Rubio committed Wednesday to ending President Obama's controversial program for child immigrants even if Congress doesn't create an acceptable alternative, hardening his opposition in the wake of criticism by presidential rival Donald Trump.


Rubio went further than he has before in demonstrating his commitment to ending Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is loathed by many conservatives.


Rubio had previously said the program would have to end eventually but left unclear whether he would end it without reforms. In an interview in the spring with Fusion's Jorge Ramos, Rubio said he was not calling for DACA “to be revoked tomorrow or this week or right away” and said he hoped “it would end because of some reform to the immigration laws.” [The Washington Post11/4/15]

New York: “Rubio Flips On Immigration.” In a November 5, 2015, article, New York magazine detailed Rubio's shifting positions on immigration reform and DACA, criticizing the candidate for “adopting a more extreme immigration stance for political purposes”:

Immigration is a dicey issue for Rubio. Two years ago, he co-authored a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which included a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but after it failed to get a vote in the House, the senator backed away from his own bill, and said he supports a piecemeal approach to reform. According to Rubio, that's a strategy shift, not a flip-flop. Regardless, he compounded the awkwardness of his Trump attack just a few hours later when he revealed that as president he would end President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation, even if no other form of immigration reform has been passed.

“This program's now been around for three years and we haven't signed it by now ... we're not going to extend the program,” Rubio said on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. “DACA is going to end. The ideal way for it to end would be it's replaced by a reform system that creates an alternative but if it doesn't it will end. It cannot be the permanent policy of the United States.”

In April, Rubio said that while he doesn't want the policy to be around forever, he wants to enact other reforms before repealing the executive action. “I don't think we can immediately revoke that,” Rubio told Univision's Jorge Ramos. “I think it will have to end at some point and I hope it will end because of some reforms to the immigration laws. It cannot be the permanent policy of the United States. But I'm not calling for it to be revoked tomorrow or this week or right away.”


Rubio says he's still open to creating a pathway to citizenship (though not during his presidency), but the U.S. needs to focus on securing the border before pushing other immigration reforms (he's hazy on what exactly that means). Several Hispanic groups objected to Rubio hardening his immigration stance even further. “Rubio has been a leader on immigration reform in the past, but when leading on the issue is no longer politically expedient he is abandoning his community for the purpose of his own ambitions,” said Latino Victory Fund president Cristóbal Alex.

Adopting a more extreme immigration stance for political purposes while criticizing others for doing the same might seem hypocritical, but maybe Rubio is just taking a cue from John McCain. In July, the Arizona senator made fun of Rubio for backing away from his immigration bill, though McCain distanced himself from that bill, and his own comprehensive immigration bill in 2006. [New York11/5/15]

ThinkProgress: Rubio Has Completed “Reversal” On Immigration Policy. ThinkProgress addressed Rubio's shift in a November 4, 2015, article, stating, “Marco Rubio's immigration reversal is complete: he promises to deport Dreamers.” The article highlighted the pressure within the GOP to oppose deferral programs explaining, “now as a Republican presidential contender in a field dominated by candidates supporting mass deportation and the end to birthright citizenship ... Rubio wants it known that he will end the only protection that some undocumented immigrants have”:

Now as a Republican presidential contender in a field dominated by candidates supporting mass deportation and the end to birthright citizenship (currently a constitutional right granted to kids born on U.S. soil), Rubio wants it known that he will end the only protection that some undocumented immigrants have -- the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was created through executive action in 2012 by President Obama. The executive action has since granted temporary deportation relief and work authorization to as many as 681,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.

During a Young Professionals event in Manchester, New Hampshire, Rubio said that he would eventually end the DACA program, even if Congress didn't act on a permanent legislative fix.


Rubio recently told Univision host Jorge Ramos that he wouldn't “immediately revoke” the DACA program, but that “I hope it will end because of some reform to the immigration laws,” pointing to a permanent legislative fix. Rubio said at the time that he couldn't support DACA's expansion known as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which would have covered undocumented parents of legal residents and U.S. citizens. The DAPA program is currently held up through a temporary injunction issued by a Texas judge.

In the past, Rubio championed for undocumented immigrants to have a voice, including calling undocumented youths brought to the country at a young age “real people” in 2012. But since abandoning his own comprehensive immigration bill, he's said that he's become “realistic on immigration,” saying that border security is the “only way forward.” [ThinkProgress, 11/4/15]