January 28th, 2013
05:51 PM ET
10 years ago

Why this time? On immigration, McCain points to 'elections'

(CNN) - A bipartisan group of senators expressed confidence Monday in their proposal for major immigration reform. But after the last big congressional push failed in 2007, many are asking why it would work this time around.

"Elections. Elections," Republican Sen. John McCain said Monday in a press conference, when CNN's Dana Bash asked what was behind the optimism. "The Republican Party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens and we realize that there are many issues on which we think we are in agreement with our Hispanic citizens but this is a preeminent issue with those citizens."

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President Obama overwhelmingly won the support of Latinos last year, taking 71% compared to 27% for Mitt Romney. The Latino vote for Republicans has also trended down over the last three presidential elections. In 2008, 31% supported McCain, while 44% of the voting bloc turned out for then-President George W. Bush in 2004.

Since Election Day, leading Republicans have taken a noticeably different tune on immigration, with many saying the party needs to tweak its messaging on the issue in order to appeal to a broader base.

Speaking later in the day on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," McCain argued he's not sure "politics" is completely behind the shift, but "if we continue to polarize the Latino/Hispanic vote, the demographics indicate that our chances for being in the majority are minimal."

Polls taken during the election indicated that the economy–not immigration–was the top issue for Latino voters. A CNN poll conducted a little more than a month before the election showed that 44% of Latino adults rated the economy as their top issue, while immigration policy came in a distant second at 14%. Asked to choose between the economy and immigration, nearly three quarters of Latinos – 74% – said the economy was more important.

With that said, however, more than three-fourths of Latino voters in exit polls said that undocumented immigrants should be offered the chance to apply for legal status.

Along with elections, McCain acknowledged other reasons for the renewed drive on illegal immigration legislation–saying "we can't forever have 11 million people live in the shadows"–but he also predicted a bumpy road ahead.

"Let me emphasize, there will still be fights. There will still be battles. But I am more confident now that I have ever been that we can reach an agreement and have a bill signed by the president," he said on CNN.

Filed under: Immigration • John McCain • The Situation Room
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Randy, San Francisco

    Compromise on immigration is more likely in the more deliberative and civil US Senate. The outcome is less certain in the House of Representatives where anti-immigrant Republican politicians are more resistant to reason. With an inability to control extremist hot heads in his own caucus, Speaker Boehner will have to depend on Democrats to pass any compromise bill. Doesn't say much for rebranding efforts in the Republican Party.

    January 28, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  2. dpn in albuquerque

    Thats right, Songbird. It is called Pandering. Can you spell that kids?

    January 28, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Basically, the illegals come here against our laws, then ask US to change OUR LAWS to accommodate them for coming here illegally?

    What's WRONG with this picture, people????? REALLY WRONG!

    January 28, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  4. Yonni

    McCain is a wicked man just jumping around arrived at this point today, tomorrow? who knows.

    January 28, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  5. kayla

    how low can these repugnants go? the only time we are getting bipartisan is because of immigration, the shame of it.

    January 28, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  6. Anthony in California

    In other words... Republicans hate "Hispanics" less than they hate losing their cushy jobs.

    January 28, 2013 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  7. Logic N LA

    If his reasoning is correct- and it is- this is a sad comentary about Republicans. Logic, sound policy, and human rights should not be political issues!

    January 28, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  8. Jaime

    Well it would seem that since President Obama was re-elected and the highest priority of the republicans was to do nothing that might make him look good or help his image, no matter what – it is time to re-consider.

    Now that particular obstacle to any sort of cooperation is history the republicans are ready to work because Mr. Obama was re-elected. What a farcical embarrassment.

    January 28, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  9. Name lynn

    Mccain you are a looser, shut the heck up go an find you a recliner chair that fits you an the white hair on your head.

    January 28, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  10. Gregory M. Newbold

    Latinos & Asians –

    Recognize that any Republicans support for immigration reform is borne out of the result of the 2012 election – that is to say Mr. Obama and Conressional Democrats winning the majority of votes cast. The only thing the GOP respects is power; power at the ballot box. They don`t "care" about these immigrants.

    If Latinos & Asians want to see immigration reform that is based on balance & fairness they will keep the pressure on the GOP by voting Democratic in 2014. A strong turnout for Democrats in the off year mid-term elections will keep the pressure on the GOP. Voters, you trust the GOP at your own peril.

    January 28, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  11. Jerubbaal

    Do the GOP believe that latinos are that guillacle?

    January 28, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  12. gypsydaveywithablowtorch

    Why doesn't he just say: We are desperate for Latino votes, so many Republicans are just going to have to overlook their hatred of them and start catering.

    January 28, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  13. jinx88

    Arizona is a few years away from becoming a blue state and McCain knows his seat is in jeopardy. Why else is he doing this?

    January 28, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  14. Dave in Arizona

    Might they win a few Hispanic votes here, maybe.
    But not many.

    Hispanics can either choose between the party that has supported them all along, or the party that's now supporting them and admitting they're doing so to earn their votes.

    January 28, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  15. rs

    Yes, Mr. McCain is admitting it is time for the GOP to move into the 21st Century. Not because it is the right thing to do mind you, but because minorities simply aren't voting Republican these days. Perhaps THAT is what these folks should be looking at.

    January 28, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  16. David

    McCain said elections. What he meant was pandering! Pure and simple tell em what that want to hear. Hope it at least helps some people.

    January 28, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The same old faces like old man McCain is more than enough proof Republicans have not and will not change. McCain couldn't make a good decision for a VP running mate so how in the H can he possibily be trusted to make a good decision for anyone. Retire McCain, this is the 21st Century and he was almost born in the 18th century and the best decision he could possibly make is to retire.

    January 28, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  18. Al

    Really rich. Remember when Mc Cain said he had inside info that forrest fires were started by Mexicans?

    January 28, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |