The Washington Post quoted Sen. John McCain asserting, “I helped author with Senator [Edward M.] Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform, and fought for its passage,” but did not note that McCain has since said he would not support that immigration reform bill if it came to a vote on the Senate floor.
In a July 15 Washington Post article on Sen. John McCain's July 14 speech at the National Council of La Raza convention, staff writer Juliet Eilperin asserted that McCain “said he would 'prefer' not to attack [Sen.] Barack Obama but felt obligated to respond to allegations that he backed away from comprehensive immigration reform for political reasons.” She then quoted McCain's assertion: “I helped author with Senator [Edward M.] Kennedy [D-MA] comprehensive immigration reform, and fought for its passage.” But Eilperin did not note, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, that McCain said during a January 30 Republican presidential debate that he would not support the immigration reform bill he co-sponsored with Kennedy if it came to a vote on the Senate floor. Eilperin also reported that McCain “continued to say he would focus first on securing U.S. borders,” but did not note that McCain's position that “we've got to secure the borders first” is at odds with his prior assertion that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective.
Eilperin's Washington Post July 15 article, headlined, “To Latinos, McCain Revisits Immigration”:
Speaking at the National Council of La Raza conference Monday, John McCain said he would “prefer” not to attack Barack Obama but felt obligated to respond to allegations that he backed away from comprehensive immigration reform for political reasons.
“At a moment of great difficulty in my campaign, when my critics said it would be political suicide for me to do so, I helped author with Senator Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform, and fought for its passage,” McCain said. Obama, he continued, “declined to cast some of those tough votes.”
Obama, he continued, “declined to cast some of those tough votes.”
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor responded: “The facts are that Barack Obama stood up for comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate, and even the measure the McCain campaign is attacking us on today was supported by 40 immigrant groups supporting reform, including La Raza.”
McCain reiterated his commitment to immigration reform in terms that appealed to the Latino audience. While he continued to say he would focus first on securing U.S. borders, he framed the pledge in language that sounded more favorable to immigrants than his usual town hall remarks.
“We must prove we have the resources to secure our borders and use them, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States,” he said.
Describing some who died as they tried to cross the border, McCain concluded a vivid portrait of the dead by saying, “These simply were God's children who wanted to be Americans.” The audience applauded with vigor.
McCain also devoted a significant portion of his speech to economic issues -- he noted that there are 2 million Latino-owned businesses in the United States -- saying he would keep taxes low and promote trade agreements with Latin America.