“Immigration is probably a more powerful issue here than almost anyplace that I’ve been,” Mr. McCain said after a stop in Cedar Falls.This is a "Doh!" moment for a Republican who want the nom in '08.
As he left Iowa, Mr. McCain said he was reconsidering his views on how the immigration law might be changed. He said he was open to legislation that would require people who came to the United States illegally to return home before applying for citizenship, a measure proposed by Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana. Mr. McCain has previously favored legislation that would allow most illegal immigrants to become citizens without leaving the country.
On Saturday morning in Des Moines, Mr. Brownback stood for 30 minutes at a breakfast with Republicans as question after question — without exception — was directed at an immigration system that Iowans denounced as failing. “These people are stealing from us,” said Larry Smith, a factory owner from Truro and a member of the central committee of the state Republican Party.
Finally, Mr. Brownback, with a slight smile, inquired, “Any other topics that people want to talk about?”
“What are you going to do with illegal immigrants who come here and become criminals?” demanded Jodi Wohlenhaus, a Republican homemaker who lives outside Des Moines.
Mr. McCain, for example, appeared to distance himself from Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat with whom he formed an alliance last year on an immigration bill that stalled in Congress.You think? Could it be that most of them remember that in '65 Kennedy was responsible for the bucket-of-FOD system we have now? Do you?
“What I’ve tried to point out is we couldn’t pass the legislation,” Mr. McCain said. “So we have to change the legislation so it can pass. And I’ve been working with Senator Kennedy, but we’ve also been working with additional senators, additional House members.”
Mr. McCain focused instead on the proposal by Mr. Pence, a conservative. “Pence has this touchback proposal,” Mr. McCain said at a news conference. “I said hey, let’s consider that if that’s a way we can get some stuff.”
Mr. McCain’s aides said his identification with Mr. Kennedy accounted for much of his political problem on the issue with conservatives.