Newt’s Unconventional Immigration Stance May Appeal To Conventional Republican Voters.

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

If conventional wisdom holds, the race for the Republican presidential nomination was largely frozen last week, as voters moved from watching the evolving horse race to preparing for a five week holiday season. Coincidentally, voters in Iowa will gather in five weeks on January 3rd to hold the nation’s first caucuses on the subject. Thus, the perceived front runners who locked in their positions last week are likely to remain the front runners until those first votes are counted about the time the Sugar Bowl kicks off.

The importance of winning last week’s news cycle made the choice and timing of Newt Gingrich’s remarks on immigration in Tuesday night’s CNN debate on foreign policy a bit curious and risky. Gingrich stated in bluntly certain terms that it is not possible or even desirable to deport every immigrant currently living in the United States illegally. In doing so, some believe he’s touched a third rail of Republican primary politics.

Gingrich’s remarks made clear that he does not favor a path to citizenship, but does offer a path to legalization for those who have lived her for decades, are involved in the community, have raised children and even grandchildren here, and are paying taxes. “I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families” he stated.

This, of course, created the usual cries of “Amnesty!” from some hard line immigration opponents. D.A. King, leader of the Georgia based Dustin Inman society and persistent critic of U.S. immigration enforcement policy, penned an Op Ed for Friday’s Marietta Daily Journal dismissing Gingrich as a possibility for his vote, stating Newt had “degraded and insulted the entire concept of legal immigration and U.S. citizenship by referring to not-yet-captured illegal aliens as ‘law-abiding citizens’.”

Yet others are willing to hear Gingrich out on the issue. The Associated Press reports that over 1,000 showed up at a Naples Florida hotel to hear Gingrich address the issue on Friday, with others turned away for lack of space. During his remarks, he reiterated his position and clarified some significant points that hit home with voters on both sides of the issue.

Gingrich claims that as President, he would have the border sealed by January 1st of 2014, less than one year after he would be inaugurated. He further supports a measure to make English the official language of the United States, claiming that “You can’t sustain a civilization if you can’t talk to each other.”

But he did not withdraw from his positions stated earlier in Tuesday’s debate, saying “I have not suggested amnesty for 11 million people. I am for a path to legality for those people whose ties are so deeply into America that it would truly be tragic to rip their family apart.”

In framing the debate in the manner that he has, Gingrich may have threaded a needle on a tough issue and turned his position to his advantage. By ruling out a path to citizenship, insisting on a secure border first, and demanding English as an official language, Newt has thrown some red meat to hard liners on the immigration subject.

Yet by invoking this as a family values issue, and specifically mentioned the unseemliness of uprooting immigrants from their churches that they have been part of for decades, Gingrich was able to make a thinly veiled appeal to values voters who currently feel ignored by many of the front runners and may be skeptical of his past. Further, by drawing the ire of the harshest critics such as King, Gingrich may draw some sympathy from centrist and independent minded voters who currently view Newt as “extreme”.

By the end of the long Holiday weekend, Gingrich was still dominating political headlines but for yet another reason. New Hampshire’s conservative Union Leader newspaper passed over regional favorite Mitt Romney and handed Newt their endorsement. With Gingrich surging in both New Hampshire and Iowa polls, the endorsement seems to seal Gingrich’s position as the likely “not-Mitt” candidate.

Romney continues to have a large cash advantage, as well as a grass roots network that has been under construction for years. Resources that have been amassed over the years he has been a candidate will be deployed in the early states while most of the rest of us go about our holiday activities. Momentum favors Newt, while infrastructure favors Mitt. The remaining candidates are now largely window dressing on what appears to have quietly become a two man race.

33 comments

  1. debbie0040 says:

    Newt was helped when Michael Reagan publicy state that his father would have agreed with Newt.

    I was not bothered by his statement.

    • SallyForth says:

      That’s what’s called pay back – since Newt was in Congress and helped Ronald Reagan pass his amnesty bill for over 10 million illegals in the US during the 80’s. We sure don’t need any Reagan re-deaux of tax give-aways to the rich and reckless behavior.

      Speaking of whom, ‘very interesting timing to release the following info on the day after Thanksgiving, when nobody was paying attention: A/P gained documents from the National Security Archives under the Freedom of Information Act that finally brings out the facts on the Iran-Contra affair. At a Nov. 25, 1986, White House news conference, Reagan and Atty General Meese admitted that money from arms sales to Iran had been diverted to Contra guerrillas fighting the government of Nicaragua – AFTER Congress had cut off military aid to the rebels. Despite that, a friendly investigating prosecutor at the time concluded that Reagan was not criminally liable because it would be difficult to prosecute the President for violating federal law! He violated the Arms Export Control Act that mandates Congressional notification of arms transfers through a third country – Reagan’s secret arms sales to Iran in 1985 went through Israel.
      Whew! ‘Good thing he didn’t do something as serious as getting a BJ from an intern, or he’d have been impeached.

      • Charlie says:

        This is what we commonly call a thread jack. We commonly don’t appreciate those much. There are quite a few open threads available if you care to start a conversation of your choice.

  2. Three Jack says:

    d.a. who? he long ago became almost as irrelevant with regard to immigration as phil kent (kent became relevant again with his appt to the governor’s xenophobe committee on job destruction in ga).

    good to see a politician stand by what he says instead of the usual staffer coming out after a statement and ‘walking it back’. newt was/is right on this issue by taking the conservative, common sense approach. those like d.a. and kent are the wackjobs who like to play on the emotions of semi-literate voters who use mexicans as the excuse for why they are losers.

    • Monica says:

      Right? That King guy is seriously disturbed… I’m not sure why would anyone quote him or let him publish anything, he is mentally ill and has some kind of troubling obsession with immigrants of any sort, and well, non-whites.

      • John Konop says:

        Monica,

        I know DA and I really do not think he is a racist. DA did a good job bringing this issue up when many ignored the problem. With that said I do think Newt is heading into the right direction with a solution. I would add that we must make sure immigrants also have the proper insurance so that the burden is not put upon society. And finally that immigration is not used as a tool to drive down wages. This concept of wiping out the middle class via trade and immigration policy supported by both parties is a major reason demand is down. Henry Ford 101: working class people need enough wages to buy products they produce if not we will destroy demand.

        • Three Jack says:

          john, good to see you’ve applied a little common sense to your thought process on immigrants already in this country. but i wonder where you can find data to support your assertion that immigrants are wiping out the middle class. last i checked, most illegal immigrants are working in less than middle class jobs…in fact, most work for those considered to be in the middle class.

          • John Konop says:

            FYI

            The 2006 Swift Raids: Assessing the Impact of Immigration Enforcement Actions at Six Facilities

            ……After the raids Swift had to curtail production for a time. A company official said that it took four months to resume full production at the two pork plants, and five months at the four beef plants.8

            Swift’s Efforts to Replace Illegals

            To replenish its depleted ranks, Swift implemented a multi-pronged strategy to recruit workers. The company increased wages and offered bonuses both to workers who recruited others and to newcomers who stayed on the job for specified periods of time. It opened recruiting offices in the Texas border towns of El Paso and McAllen and sent recruiting teams across the Plains States. It bought newspaper, radio, and television advertising, particularly in Spanish-language media. It briefly contracted with Manpower, Inc. Along the highway to Cactus, a Swift billboard flattered potential recruits with the declaration that “The quality of our meat is surpassed only by the quality of our people.”…….

            ….Historic Wage Patterns

            There is great deal of evidence that the meat packing industry paid its workers much more a generation ago. An official of the UFCW, which represents about 40 percent of the workforce in the meatpacking and meat processing industries, said the union is striving “to go back to when a meatpacking job was one of the most prized jobs in industry and when a meat plant was a prized employer in the community.”18 For wages to get back to where they used to be it would require a very significant increase. Table 1 shows average wages have declined dramatically in meatpacking over the last three decades. Expressed in 2009 dollars the average hourly wage for a worker in this industry was $21.75 in 1980 compared to $12.03 in 2007. This represents a 45 percent decline in real wages. This decline in wages can only be described as enormous, and devastating to the standard of living for workers in an industry that once sustained a blue-collar middle class……

            http://www.cis.org/2006SwiftRaids

                • Three Jack says:

                  this is another example of self serving union bosses screwing up an industry. your linked article proves this with swift seeking employees mainly in the hispanic community even after the government raids.

                  we’re not living in 1980, the world has changed. meatpackers (other than aaron rodgers) are not the target middle class nor should they be.

  3. Mid Georgia Retiree says:

    Mr. Gingrich is right on this issue. There is no practical way to find and deport every illegal immigrant in this country. Anyone who thinks it can be done please stand up and tell us how.
    I admire him for standing up and saying what needs to be said instead of saying what people want to hear. I have not decided which candidate I will vote for in the Georgia primary but I will certainly give serious consideration to those who who don’t backtrack about a comment they made the first time someone disagrees with them.
    This is totally off topic, but I also don’t see myself supporting a candidate who signs a pledge like the one some Republicans signed for Grover Norquist. I don’t like to see those charged with making law and policy paint themselves into a corner and close the door on reasonable solutions to our problems.

    • analogkid says:

      I also don’t see myself supporting a candidate who signs a pledge like the one some Republicans signed for Grover Norquist.

      Jon Huntsman is the only Republican candidate that did not sign the pledge, which is one of the reasons why I like him. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the reasons why he’s polling in the low single digits.

  4. Wait. I thought Obama had single handedly (yea, right) screwed up the economy so bad that all the illegals went home… making this a non-issue. If not, what is he thinking?.?.?, doesn’t he know only white male landowners are allowed to move about freely on this planet… and he’s obviously forgotten, “Dey tuk-er-jebs!!!”

    The things the average republican voter get’s riled up about is ridiculous…. and usually hypocritical. They yell Liberty and Freedom for the unborn… but if you’re Born; non-white, practice a different religion(or non-religion), from another country or live any sort of different lifestyle than their majority… “NO LIBERTY and FREEDOM FOR YOU!”

    However, the establishment GOP talking radio heads better hurry up and tell them who they’re really suppose to vote for soon,… time is running out… and they’re getting tired of jumping from one candidate to another, to another, to another and to another (since, they obviously have no real principle reason of their own free mind for supporting a candidate)… or ya’ll might get stuck with loser Newt (McCain 2.0) after all.

    • Doug Grammer says:

      How did Congressman Bob Barr work out for you in 2008? Did he get 5% of what Sen. McCain got? I’d count your wins before I started calling others losers.

  5. KD_fiscal conservative says:

    Its amazing that simply stating the obvious fact, that it is not possible or humane to try to deport every single illegal in this county, is now considered controversial in the GOP primary. This just goes to show you how ignorant a certain portion of the GOP primary is.

    One the other hand, I think once the other contenders start getting desperate and start attacking Gingrich vigorously from the right on things like climate change, family values(or lack-there-of), lack of ethics, this “establishment cred”, lack of ethics, healthcare, medicare, doesn’t hate mexicans, I think he is going to start losing supports from the far-right, TP, social conservative crowd looking for that non-existent ideologically pure candidate. This will help Romney by splitting the uber-conservative vote, allowing Romney’s base of the ~25% of “moderate” GOP voters to prevail.

  6. ricstewart says:

    Newt’s not my choice for president, but I’m glad he’s saying what Americans need to hear instead of what they want to hear. Good for him.
    Could the tide finally be turning on immigration? Some cities are passing local measures to attract immigrants and Russell Pearce has been recalled. Maybe there’s hope for reason and common sense.

  7. saltycracker says:

    Newt presented a road to a solution to a long running mess. He did not pander to the talking heads or left media or doublespeak. This is what the mainstream wants a candidate to do, cut thru the BS.

    The illegals are still with us and even more transient in these hard times, ask any school or clinic or charity. And while most are just looking for work, illegal activities by illegals are increasing.
    We must be a country of laws, as Newt says.

  8. oldman45 says:

    Newt is the only candidate with the guts to say what he wants to say and let the chips fall where they may. He has been this way throughout the campaign…most of his team left when he wouldn’t do the campaign the way they wanted. Most of the other candidates are twisting in the wind trying to satisfy the Tea Party or some other conservative or moderate group depending on who they’re talking to at the time. Newt makes the most sense of anybody running and will kill Obama in any debate. Like a lot of people I have a little angst regarding his prior indiscretions but at this point I’m willing to give him a bye if he can get this country back on track. Keep standing up and telling it like it is Newt! You’ve got my vote!

  9. Doug Grammer says:

    Newt is approaching this issue the correct way. Other candidates are attacking him and calling it amnesty, which it is not. I understand that Newt is the front runner, other than Gov. Romney, and other candidates want to knock him down so that one of them can take his place. I’d like to see some type of monetary penalty assessed before they can be considered some type of legal status. Newt’s website supports that.

    Is anyone offering a better solution?

  10. SallyForth says:

    If it walks like amnesty, talks like amnesty, must be amnesty…. “Not separate families here illegally” sure sounds like amnesty to me – unless he plans to buy transportation back to their home country for the illegal parents and their so-called “anchor children.”

    I heard Newt tonight tell O’Reilly that he would, however, build a wall on the border from Texas to California. But his overall plan would allow illegals free egress through the fence, so why spend the billions to build it?

    @Doug, how about we try enforcing existing laws and demanding the Immigration and Naturalization Service do their job? Welcome people who immigrate through proper legal means and help them assimilate into American society, export people who came/come here illegally – like other civilized nations do. ‘Seems the obvious place to start.

    • Doug Grammer says:

      The definition of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Until we secure our border, it won’t do any good to deport anyone because they will come right back. Amnesty implies no consequences. Newt is in favor of penalties for breaking the law. Doesn’t look like a duck or amnesty to me.

      How does his plan allow for illegals to have free egress through the fence? I’m waiting on some documentation on that one.

      Do you REALLY think your plan to deport millions is practical and an efficient use of our money? There are not enough INS agents to deport that many people. So to let them do their jobs, that would be like asking two guys and a bucket to empty the Hover Damn. It may be their job to get rid of or control that water, but that doesn’t mean they have all of the tools to do it. What if we let some of the water in and produce power out of it? Or we could pass a flat sales tax so that everyone who pays anything pays into the system. Or we could tax them an extra 3,000 a year for 5 years as a penalty. Most other civilized nations have better control over their borders.

      I asked for a better solution. Your solution is to deport everyone, let the INS do it’s job, and not seal the border? Does anyone else have a “better” solution?

    • saltycracker says:

      It is amazing that even when a candidate speaks clearly on a topic and details it on their web site (something we are desperate for) that folks still hear what they want to hear or completely distort it. Should the candidate go back to safe statements like “I love America”……???….not for me…..

      Loved Newt saying if prez he’d cut off any Fed $$ to sanctuary cities !

  11. Dave Bearse says:

    The fact that a reasonable centrist (perhaps right of center) stance is “unconventional” and “third rail” within the GOP is the reason why there won’t be any GOP Presidents until there’s a course change.

      • benevolus says:

        Ronald Reagan:
        – Ex- Democrat
        – Divorced
        – Failed economic philosophy (huge debt increase, high unemployment)
        – Sold weapons to terrorists
        – Interventionist foreign policy
        – Caused the savings and loan collapse in the late ’80’s with insane tax policy.
        – Supported open borders

        Y’all just worship him because of the air traffic controllers strike and him out-spending the Russkies. Reagan would never survive a Republican primary these days.

        • Doug Grammer says:

          I like him because he was positive and saw the best in America. In 1980, he asked if America was better off than it was 4 years ago? President Carter lost. In 1984, he asked if America was better off than it was 4 years ago? President Reagan won every state but one.

          Out spending the Ruskies was a pretty big deal. Do you ever wonder what the world would look like if we hadn’t? I do. Four words changed the world: “Tear down this wall.”

          I could go through your list, but it’s not worth the time. President Obama said “I won’t rest” referring to creating jobs. How many golf trips has he been on since then?

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