Hardline voices from the Heartland turn the tables on McCain and Kennedy during election cycle
By Rick Klein, Globe Staff | March 22, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John McCain have all but abandoned plans to cosponsor a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year, as McCain faces tough questions from conservatives on the presidential campaign trail about his support for immigrants' rights.
Kennedy, frustrated by the slow progress of his negotiations with McCain, is instead considering filing a bill on his own, modeled largely on the measure endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee last year. McCain is continuing to talk to Kennedy about immigration proposals, but the Arizona Republican has not committed to supporting Kennedy's approach.
The erosion of the unlikely political partnership that brought the liberal Kennedy and the conservative McCain (McCain is a big government liberal posing as a neoconservative -- Editor) together on immigration suggests a tough road ahead for passing a sweeping immigration measure this year. Further complicating efforts to find consensus, a group of Republicans is working with the White House to draft an alternative bill.
McCain's hesitancy about joining Kennedy on the same issue they worked together on in the previous Congress also speaks to an emerging dynamic in the Republican presidential race.
McCain has encountered anger from hard-line immigration foes on the campaign trail, particularly over an aspect in last year's bill that would have allowed most undocumented immigrants to work toward citizenship. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, one of McCain's rivals for the GOP nomination, has been especially sharp in his condemnation of McCain's approach to immigration.
Senator Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican who is supporting Romney's candidacy, said McCain appears to be learning that Republicans won't accept proposals that allow undocumented immigrants to gain legal status until the borders are secured.