June 4th, 2007
11:11 AM ET
7 years ago

McCain: GOP opponents pandering for votes over immigration

McCain had some harsh words for his GOP presidential rivals Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Facing increasing unrest from many conservatives over his immigration stance, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, made his case Monday for the Senate immigration bill he had a hand in drafting and directly criticized his GOP presidential opponents for offering no solutions of their own.

"The choice is between doing something, imperfect but effective and achievable, and doing nothing," McCain said in a speech in Florida. "I would hope that any candidate for president would not suggest doing nothing. And I would hope they wouldn't play politics for their own interests if the cost of their ambition was to make this problem even harder to solve."

Though not mentioning any of his rivals by name, McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, in particular, have engaged in a war of words over the Senate immigration proposal. Romney has called the bill an amnesty plan, while McCain has suggested that Romney has shifted his position on immigration for political gain.

"To want the office so badly that you would intentionally make our country's problems worse might prove you can read a poll or take a cheap shot, but it hardly demonstrates presidential leadership," McCain said in his speech Monday.

"Pandering for votes on this issue, while offering no solution to the problem, amounts to doing nothing," he added. "And doing nothing is silent amnesty."

McCain's speech comes one day before 10 GOP presidential candidates square-off in New Hampshire at a debate sponsored by CNN, WMUR-TV, and the New Hampshire Union Leader. The debate will air on CNN at 7 p.m. ET. CNN Pipeline will also stream video of the debate free of charge that evening.

Responding to McCain's speech, Romney said in a statement, "the immigration approach proposed by Senators McCain and Kennedy falls short of a workable solution to an important problem."

"In reforming our immigration system, we must meet three priorities." he added. "First, we can and must secure our borders. Second, our country must have an enforceable employment verification system. Third, in reforming our immigration system, we must do so in a way that rewards immigrants who obey the laws and guards against providing special incentives for those who show no regard for them."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: John McCain • Mitt Romney
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Joe, Ashburn, VA

    I'm terribly disappointed that John McCain had a hand in this immigration bill. It's a joke!! That's why congress wanted to pass it with such urgency so no one would read and understand what a joke it is.
    The American public was dooped in the 80's with a joke immigration bill that promised to tighten border security and congress has the nerve to think they can fool us again. Shame on us if we allow this to happen again.
    I've got an idea for congress...how about taking care of securing our boarders, as promised, before we entertain any other immigration ideas!! They might find the American public a lot more open minded on this issue once they've lived up to their 20+ year old promise.

    June 4, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Daniel King, Kansas

    Enough you all racist American aliens!
    * Do americans obey the laws 100%? NO!
    * Do employers take advantage of undocument immigrants? YES! Were? Whole country!
    * Do americans go on welfare, medicare as well? YES!
    * Does this issue looks familiar like the African-American Civil era? YES!
    * Are americans upset immigrants take higher well paying jobs because americans don't finish school? YES!
    You know, i'm ashamed of all of you who don't know your backround. You come the Royal or rich family? It best that you know your backround first before you run your mouth. Each of us are imigrants. We did not pay to hace acces to live in this country. Yet many immigrants did. The economy is strong because of immigrants! Aplause for all imigrants! forgive my americans people.. who happen to live in ignorance.

    June 4, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. Jeff Stone, Pheonix, Az

    Do Americans obey the law 100%? No. Do ILLEGAL aliens obey the law 0%??? By coming into the country illegally they already broke the law. No one is questioning legal immigration. My grandparents came to this country legally, and they spoke English when they came. Even my wife immigrated to this country. There is no debate on legal immigration, the debate (which shouldn't even be debated) is ILLEGAL immigration.

    June 4, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  4. Karen Anderson

    –employers and landlords should be fined and jailed for breaking the law encouraging illegal immigration.
    –local,county and state laws are enforced, why is a federal law not being enforced
    –employers and landlords are encouraging and harboring illegal aliens which some may have illness/diseases like the resistance TB disease that has hit the news
    –fair wages based on supply and demand is lost with illegal immigration and Nafta, etc.
    –illegal immigrants can demonstrate and protest w/o being arrested
    –Americans who are legal.. will you demonstrate for restoring your rights and to help bring back a sanity to the immigration system? There are people who are following the law in their country to try and immigrate legally and this whole amensty sham is wrong and an injustice to those people who are trying to become citizens the right and fair way.. by following the law. Shame on Corporate America and the slum landlords across the USA and shame on illegal immigrants for falling to the ploys of Corporate America to take advantage of them and put them in an illegal status with this country.

    June 4, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  5. New York, NY

    I am a Democrat. I am for putting up a concrete fence to keep the Illegle Aliens out of the US. At this point this is a national tragedy. 12 Milliion! What the heck!. Few of them speak english, and they are draining the already devistated health care system. Publice school resources are non existant. Mexican's coming into this country with all kinds of deseases. the United States needs to put a moratorum on illegal Aliens in this country.

    June 4, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. Patty, Los Angeles

    To: "John Smith" of Virginia and "Daniel King" of Kansas

    These two are probably the same person. The syntax is the same as well as the gross misspellings and flawed logic.

    The vast majority of posters are fed up with ILLEGAL immigration. Not those who valued themselves enough to immigrate legally into this country.

    We aren't talking about visiting another country or moving to another country LEGALLY. We are talking about those people who decided to sneak across our borders because they are too lazy to do anything about the horrible economic conditions in their own countries.

    Illegals and their unlawful employers have decimated the wages for construction, the meat packing industry, produce production, and the hospitality industry, and that's only the short list.

    And actually this IS our country. We DO own it. We should be able to say who comes into our country just like we can say who comes into our houses.

    To say that illegals do everything for us is insulting. I have never used one and will never use one. THEY ARE ILLEGAL. What do you not understand about that?

    Illegals are not taking higher paying jobs from Americans. They are depressing the pay for jobs that Americans used to do before employers found out they didn't have to pay Americans a decent wage. Employers also don't pay the taxes that legitimate employers pay so that they can have a better bottom line.

    And I don't know about other posters, but I see no sign of a good economy. Gas prices are sky high, households are scraping by month to month with credit card living at an all time high.

    I could go on and on about what is wrong with illegal immigration, but I won't. It makes me furious and sad to have to explain what illegal means.

    We have to secure (read, close) our borders, fine and/or jail employers who disregard our laws and remove ALL illegal aliens fromm this country.

    Enforce the current laws.

    June 4, 2007 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  7. Danielle, Overland Park, KS

    Daniel King has it right – we are all immigrants, and we all benefit from immigrants. Should they come legally? Yes. But, it's difficult when getting into our country legally is so very difficult. That is what needs to change, not the laws to keep them out.

    It is not Mexicans who form the gangs and cause violence, it is neighborhoods. To generalize that a certain race is the cause of our problems is extremely closed minded. It is easy to sit in the US and blame others for our problems, but we weren't born here. Only the native Americans were not immigrants, but the rest of us are and we need to respect others who want to live in this country, too.

    June 5, 2007 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  8. Mike Brooks, Eugene, Oregon

    Pandering for votes? Excuse me Senator McCain, this is supposedly a DEMOCRACY and pander for votes amount to representing the will of those voters! I guess you just don't get it.

    June 7, 2007 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  9. Nathen, Los Angeles California

    I would never vote for anyone who planned to give illegal immigrants amnesty.

    June 10, 2007 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
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