May 5th, 2008
06:00 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain touts 'Gang of 14,' immigration reform

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="John McCain touted his stance on immigration Monday"]
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (CNN) - John McCain the presidential candidate suddenly sounded like the John McCain of 2005 on Monday, touting two pet issues that have generated considerable heartache among grassroots conservatives: the “Gang of 14” compromise and comprehensive immigration reform.

McCain brought up the “Gang of 14” saga unprompted at a town hall here, in advance of a major speech on judicial appointments he is set to deliver tomorrow in Winston-Salem.

“I know what bipartisanship is,” McCain said. “I am going to talk tomorrow again about our Gang of 14: seven Republicans, seven Democrats that got together rather than blow up the Senate, and we confirmed so many federal judges.”

In the spring of 2005, McCain and 13 other senators from both parties agreed on a compromise to avoid the so-called “nuclear option,” which would have curtailed the right of the minority to filibuster. Democrats had been filibustering to prevent the confirmation of three conservative judicial nominees named by President Bush.

McCain said he took pride in his votes to confirm Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, a line that drew applause from assembled members of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.

The Arizona senator also seemed to move past his usual “secure the borders first” mantra in favor of calling for, as he put it, “comprehensive immigration reform."

Last summer, McCain and Sen. Edward Kennedy led the charge on an immigration reform package that aroused the ire of conservatives and ultimately threatened to undermine McCain's then-frontrunning presidential bid. (McCain also supported immigration reform bills in 2005 and 2006.)

“Unless we enact comprehensive immigration reform I don’t think you can take it piecemeal,” he explained Monday, answering a question about providing visas for skilled workers.

“In other words,” he said, “because as soon you and I start to talk about the highly skilled workers, our agricultural interest people are going to say, ‘Look we need ag workers, too.’ And then somebody’s going say, 'We need the DREAM Act,' and then somebody’s going to say, 'We’ve got to enforce our border.'”

Throughout the Republican primary battle last fall, McCain faced relentless questions about his support for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, the 2007 bill that would have allowed illegal immigrants to remain in the United States if they faced certain penalties. Opponents labeled it “amnesty.”

Since clinching the nomination, McCain has largely avoided speaking about wide-ranging immigration reform, arguing primarily that the government needs to focus on securing the border with Mexico before taking on other measures.

On Monday, he lobbied for a broader approach that includes a temporary guest worker program and tamper-proof ID cards.

“We get in this kind of a circular firing squad on immigration reform in the Congress of the United States," McCain said, "and the lesson I learned from it is we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform.”

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Seth

    why aren't you reporting Obama's recent endorsements?

    May 5, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  2. mitchell

    you flip -flop more than a catfish on a canepole.

    May 5, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  3. Fonzi, an independent.

    Go McCain, Go Fox News!

    Go Hillary, Go CNN !!

    May 5, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  4. Samual Adams

    Just enforce the immigration laws that are on the books and tell those greedy business owners to hire American citizens, there are thousands of veterens who cant find a job. its sad to see how little our business community values the freedom they fight for. If it wernt for those veterens there would be no free market.

    May 5, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. Griff

    Research. Research. Research. That's John McCain! Do you're Homework, and then do some more. Go John, show them how.

    May 5, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  6. noemi in los angeles

    PeopleMag: John Edwards doesn't much care for Clinton's "old politics." In their first joint interview since John, the Democratic former senator and 2004 vice presidential nominee, dropped out of the race in January, the couple named what they liked and disliked about each of the remaining Democrats – and Mrs. Edwards didn't hesitate: "I like Hillary's health care plan." What doesn't she like about the senator from New York and former first lady? "The lobbyist money," she adds. On Obama, she says: "The fact that he has motivated so many young people to be involved, I think is fantastic." What doesn't he like about Clinton? "Um, still a lot of the old politics," John Edwards said. As for Obama, he says: "Sometimes I want to see more substance under the rhetoric." But he cited two things he likes about the charismatic young senator from Illinois: "One is, I think he really does want to bring about serious change and a different way of doing things. And secondly, I think it's a great symbolic thing to have an African-American who could be president."

    Democrats United 08

    May 5, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  7. GW Is Not Our Friend

    I'm beginning to believe that whoever becomes president is supposed to be the president. This person will have liabilities, but also some strength.

    I hope it will be Barack, but if not McCain. If the next president is McCain, I'm convinced we will go to another war. God will have to help us, because GW has already dragged this country through the mud.

    Note to GW: You do not have to stick to your oath and wait until January. The country will not hold you to it. Go hunting, fishing, and bike riding, just go. You have done enough. And for heaven's sake, don't make another decision–you, Karl, and Dick have made enough decisions for us for a lifetime. You will never be forgotten and will always be remembered for the Worst President in Modern History.

    No wonder Dick Chaney couldn't find a VP for you. Those guys you interviewed probably took one look at you and said "no way will I be his VP".

    Go home George Bush, forever. Leave, we don't need your non-leadership. Oh, and this man wears a flagpin everday–what happened?

    May 5, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  8. OMG

    I hate to be the one that says "I told you so". But I TOLD YOU SO. All you Republicans who voted for GW were wrong, just plain wrong. You were wrong. You voted for the dummy of the century, and he is in the highest office in our land. And what did he do? He trashed the US and everything we stand for. Need some examples–he tortured people, he sat on his hands for 7 minutes while we were being ATTACKED, he did a flyby over New Orleans when thousands of Americans were suffering. He rewarded big businesses for gauging Americans and then hijacked their pensions. And last, but not least...he is solely responsible for gas prices going from under $2.00 to $4.00 and over.

    Again, I hate to say "I told you so", but I TOLD YOU SO. Those hanging chads were so worth counting. And anyone who laughed at the Dems, can't possibly be laughing now, especially when they drive up to the gas pumps. As Dr. Phil can say "how's that working for ya?”

    May 5, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  9. GloriafromPA

    McCain, please take Hillary for your running mate. She's actually a Republican and admires you and your policies. Thanks.

    May 5, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  10. leej

    As a Brit who's just moved to Vancouver I've always slightly favored the
    Clintons and never quite understood the antipathy towards Hillary that exists in
    America. But last night's speech was the most depressing I have ever seen.
    Filled with pandering to the fear of the outsider, and no sign of vision,
    charity or even humanity. She now seems so morally crippled by the desire for
    power that it's actually uncomfortable to watch.
    If the Clintons somehow manage to win the nomination this way, it will be one of
    the most depressing political moments in recent history. Even taking into
    account Bush-Kerry.

    May 5, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  11. mitchell

    c'mon cnn my prior comment was a 'good one'! post it,will ya?nobody else is posting anything,right now,cause noone cares about mccain.

    May 5, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  12. john

    you lost my vote when you teamed up with Kennedy to give mexicans amnesty. i'd rather vote for the liar herself because she thinks she is telling the truth.

    May 5, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  13. Jack

    Well when the Democrats take control of the White House and Congress, John McGeezer can sit with his gang of 7 Republicans and take whats given to them as the Democrats ram their agenda through the Senate despite the filibuster rule.

    The Democrats should force the Republicans to take whatever is on the Democratic agenda by revoking the Senate closure rule like the previous GOP majority threatened.

    When the GOP got their way on the apointments they wanted John McGeezer waves the flag of "compromize" which was a complete false description of what actually happened.

    May 5, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  14. E. C., Houston, Texas

    John McCain will Lose ..... if he doesn't immediately Support and Enforce ALL Existing Federal Laws that Order Immediate and Swift Deportation of All Illegal Aliens. Americans are fed up with the lack of enforcement of these Federal Laws by Government. Security. Secondly, Illegal Aliens who are caught with stolen identities, social security numbers, or bogus ones, should be immediately placed on a bus for a return trip to Mexico, with no chance of returning or entering again on a 'temporary work permit.' Thirdly, Legislation should be enacted immediately to prohibit expectant women from dropping kids on our soil so that they can Stay in the United States. Both parent and child should be deported Immediately to Mexico at our expense. This is an absurd and ridiculous practice that can Easily be Stopped. There are NO CIVIL RIGHTS for Illegal Aliens in this Country.

    May 5, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  15. JC

    I may not agree with everything Senator McCain proposed, but I can trust him with my country.

    May 5, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  16. Voter

    McCain has Keating 5, gang of 14 and amnesty. What a Democrat!

    May 5, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  17. karen from philly

    McCain has lost a long time ago. He doesn't have the support of the core constituency, black americans, asian american, latinos, white women or blue collar men, or the youth. WHo the hell does he have. NO ONE!! HE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO WIN!

    May 5, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  18. JC

    Senator McCain is a man of integrity.
    He would not criticize Rev. Wright even under Hillary's moral pressure.

    He respects freedom of speech for everyone.
    He fought for freedom of speech and almost died of it.
    He understands uttermost what he was fighting for. Hillary had to lie about being in a sniper fire to get a feel for it.

    Hillary's self-righteous and it's hilarious to have come from a perpetual liar whose pastor is a child molester.

    Let Rev. Wright speak his unpopular mind so our children can speak freely in the future.
    Hillary will only lead us into another McCarthyism, in which you must speak only her language.

    May 5, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  19. lccat

    If it comes down to McCain vs. either of the two Dems., we will not have a “dog in this fight” against the invasion of the United States by ILLEGALS. I am finished voting for ”the lesser of two evils”, I have been down that path before with Bush and Kamnesty Bailey. I will continue to support candidates who reflect my views. An option would be to support a third party candidate in an attempt to prevent the United States from becoming a Third World Country.

    May 5, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  20. lccat

    Enforcing our Immigration Laws and Securing National Borders are not partisan, divisive, or polarizing issues! In current polls vast majority of United States Citizens want our Immigration Laws Enforced and our National Borders Secured. Politicians without their own or their Elitist Political “Contributor’s” self serving agenda support their citizens and not their Elitist “Contributors”.

    May 5, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  21. lccat

    I am surprised he is advocating his AMNESTY Bill on the "record" before the convention and the election! Difficult to keep his stories straight when you have so many!

    Now he claims to be for ALL that he has spent the last several years working against and of course against ALL he has spent the last several years working for in the Senate. Again I believe we have been down this path before with the Bushwacker and Kamnesty Bailey stating what they thought was required to be elected not what they supported. They all want to lead the United States into becoming a Third World Country and we have discussed the reasons many times.

    May 5, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  22. Frank

    So McCain has added another 180 on immigration (total to date, 360).

    First it was "a comprehensive approach". Then, when he ran into trouble with the far right, it became "secure the borders first."

    Now that he has the nomination and he doesn't think he needs the hate-mongers and racists, its back to "comprehensive solution."

    Can any of you idiots on the right say "we dun bin suckered"?

    And can anyone in the rest of the political spectrum still say "straight talk express" with a straight face?

    What a hypocritical coward this man is!

    May 5, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  23. The Gunny

    You gotta love this country, everything is GW's fault. Nobody sees the fact everything and I mean was fine until the dems got control of congress. it's been a downhill slide since. the economy was fine until the dems started fixing it, and completely messed it up. Get rid of them and everything will get back on track. The clintons and obama's got power and it just tells me the welfare recipients are tired of eating dogfood.


    May 5, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |