Post columnist Knight slammed Democrats on immigration, omitted that McCain co-sponsored immigration bill with Kennedy


In a column about U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo's potential presidential bid, The Denver Post's Al Knight criticized "liberal Democrats" like U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (MA) on immigration but failed to mention that U.S. Sen. John McCain (AZ), a possible Republican presidential candidate, co-authored immigration reform legislation with Kennedy.

In his January 17 Denver Post column about the possible presidential aspirations of U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Al Knight pointed to "liberal Democrats like Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy" as politicians with whom President Bush often sides "on the immigration issue," but Knight failed to note that Republican Sen. John McCain (AZ) co-authored with Kennedy immigration reform legislation the Senate passed with Bush's support in May.

Knight's column (an online version appeared on January 16) was prompted by Tancredo's January 16 announcement that he would form an exploratory committee for a 2008 presidential campaign. In its article about Tancredo's announcement, the Post noted the view of political analyst Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, who said Tancredo's hard-line immigration stance would contrast with that of McCain. McCain has also formed an exploratory committee and would likely compete with Tancredo for Republican votes at the January 2008 Iowa caucuses:

Tancredo's presence in Iowa would put pressure on McCain, who would have a hard time appeasing the wing of the Republican Party that agrees with Tancredo on immigration, said Norman Ornstein, political analyst with American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank.

An August 2005 article in The Hill -- a Washington, D.C., newspaper that covers national politics -- noted that McCain and Kennedy had introduced the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act" the previous spring. As the Senate Republican Policy Committee noted in a May 15, 2006, Legislative Notice, elements of that bill, S. 1033, were later incorporated into S. 2611, the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006":

S. 2611 includes language based on Title VII of S. 1033, a bill sponsored by Senators Kennedy and McCain, that would provide for eventual "green cards" and a path to citizenship for most of the 11-12 million illegal aliens currently estimated to be residing in the United States.

S. 2611 passed the Senate on May 25, 2006, by a vote of 62-36. As Colorado Media Matters noted, the measure drew criticism from some Republicans, who focused on Kennedy's role in crafting the bill but did not mention McCain's. For instance, the 2006 Republican candidate for Colorado's 7th Congressional District seat, Rick O'Donnell, ran an ad titled "Amnesty" during the campaign that condemned S. 2611 for provisions concerning illegal immigrants already in the United States. As Knight did in his column, the O'Donnell campaign named only Sen. Kennedy as responsible for the bill. In fact, Kennedy was the only Democrat to co-sponsor the bill. Republican Sen. Arlen Specter (PA) sponsored the final version of the Senate bill, and McCain was one of five Republican co-sponsors. In a statement immediately preceding the successful vote on final passage, McCain thanked his Senate colleagues and Bush for their efforts in support of the bill:

I want to first thank the President for his leadership on this issue. The President's speech to the Nation last week, which I thought was inspired, was greeted by 74 percent of the American people overnight favorably, including his absolute determination to see the Congress of the United States send him a bill which has a comprehensive approach to this issue which we as a Congress and a Federal Government have ignored for too long.

I also commend the Senate Leadership on both sides of the aisle for their efforts to ensure that the Senate addressed this important issue and gave us more than adequate time for a thorough debate. This is a proud moment for the United States Senate, as we have conducted good work and returned to orderly traditions of the legislative process as envisioned by our founding fathers.

I also want to again recognize Chairman Specter for his work in leading us to this point in the legislative process. He and all of the members of the Judiciary Committee deserve our appreciation for the considerable effort they have taken on this issue during this Congress.

And of course, I commend Senator Kennedy, who is perhaps the leading expert on this difficult issue. He and I spent many months working to develop a comprehensive, reasonable, workable legislative proposal, much of which is contained in the bill before us. I also want to thank Senators Brownback, Lieberman, Graham, Salazar, Martinez, Obama, and Dewine for their shared commitment to this issue, and working to ensure this bill moved successfully intact through the legislative process.

Knight also wrote that Tancredo undermined critics' portrayal of him as "a kind of a nut" by having "demonstrated the ability to thoughtfully articulate his views." As Colorado Media Matters has documented, Tancredo has frequently also demonstrated the opposite.

From Al Knight's column, "Tancredo for president in 2008? Well, why not?," in the January 17 edition of The Denver Post:

Colorado Republican congressman Tom Tancredo's decision to form an exploratory committee in a possible run for the presidency came on the same day that Illinois junior Sen. Barack Obama, a Democrat, took the same step.

It is clear from the beginning why Tancredo is a possible candidate. He wants to advance some campaign issues, principally involving illegal immigration, that he sincerely believes would be overlooked otherwise. What Obama stands for, what has motivated his decision and fueled his ambition, is largely unknown. There is no question that he has the ability to stir a crowd and generate enthusiasm, but it is not clear where he stands on the important issues of the time, except for a distinctly anti-war position.


To the degree that Tancredo can make the immigration issue a topic for frequent discussion, he could also affect Democratic plans for new immigration legislation.

The Colorado congressman has never been afraid to challenge the Democrats or those in his own party, including President Bush, who, more often than not, sides with liberal Democrats like Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy on the immigration issue.

In his announcement Tuesday, Tancredo made it clear he doesn't intend to be a one-trick pony. Obviously, however, his stand on immigration is what got him here and it is that stand that will help determine how far he can go politically.

His critics (and he has plenty both in Colorado and elsewhere) have tried for years to picture him as a kind of nut, obsessed with one topic to the exclusion of all others. That hasn't worked, primarily because he has demonstrated the ability to thoughtfully articulate his views.

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