McCain says “center didn’t hold” on immigration bill

Arizona Senator/GOP presidential candidate John McCain treated a few dozen people to a turkey sandwich lunch today in Pella.  McCain’s latest town hall meeting was staged in a park in Pella which sits in the center of the town’s business district. He attracted a noon-hour crowd of about 250.  Here’s the Radio Iowa story.  (Click on it to get to the audio file of McCain’s news conference in Pella.)

McCain was introduced to the crowd by the mayor of Pella who poked fun at people in the audience who live in Pella throughout the summer and fall, but spend the bitter Iowa winter out-of-state — in Arizona.  This set up McCain’s roster of jokes about Arizona.

After the joke-telling, McCain walked out from under a tent that had been set up, put a hat on his head to shelter his face from the noon-hour sun and walked closer to the audience to launch into his defense/explanation of what happened in the US Senate this week on the immigration reform bill. 

"Yesterday in the Senate, last night, we rejected the proposal for immigration reform and of course I was — as you know — as one of the supporters I was disappointed that that happened but I respect the process and I respect the views of those who disagree and it’s a very complicated and interesting and frustrating issue to many Americans.  One of the reasons why Americans are frustrated is because in 1986, some of you may remember, we passed a law where we said we would give amnesty for a couple million people who were in this country illegally and we promised the American people we would secure our borders.  Well, we gave the amnesty and we didn’t fix the borders and now we have 12 million here illegally and Americans are very frustrated by that and today some hundreds more will cross our border.

"By the way, you might be interested to know that over half of the illegal crossings from Mexico into Arizona come over the Arizona border because we have this long, trackless desert as many of you know so in Arizona we feel the impact of this terribly.  Our wildlife refuge is being harmed.  Our hospitals’ emergency rooms being full and all of the, and the shootouts on our freeways between these guys who are coyotes who bring people across, so it’s, of course Americans are very frustrated at our lack of enforcing our borders.  It’s a national security requirement and that’s what I want to begin discussing with you.

"It’s a national security issue because since 9/11 we can’t afford to have 12 million people in this country not knowing where they are and what they’re doing.  Three guys, three people who wanted to go to Fort Dix, New Jersey, and kill American soldiers came across our southern border illegally, so it is first and foremost a national security issue and then it’s an economic issue and many others.

"So we failed yesterday to move forward. There were opponents that believed that this was some kind of ‘amnesty.’  There were others on the other sides, there was 12 Democrats who voted against it as well that thought we were too tough, that we were too tough on people coming into the country so there was, the great center didn’t hold.

"As you know, the President of the United States and I and many others were hopeful that we could come to some conclusion on this.  Well, my friends, because we didn’t, then — as I said — several hundred people will come across the Arizona border today into Arizona and around the country and several hundred tomorrow and then the next day so it’s not an issue that we can say: ‘Well, it’s over’ because it’s not over.  We still have broken borders and we still have this problem of not finding out who these people are.

"I hope that we can revisit this issue.  I don’t think any of us believe that the status quo is satisfactory.  In fact, if you leave it alone it is de facto amnesty.  If you’re letting people stay in this country illegally, obviously it’s silent amnesty or de facto amnesty so I hope we can do a better job of educating the American people on this issue and take it up and get it resolved because the status quo I think most of us would agree is unacceptable.

"And then there’s just one other aspect of this:  again, we failed.  My friends, look at the challenges that this nation faces — Social Security is going to go bankrupt; Medicare is obviously going to go bankrupt; we’ve got wasteful spending; we’ve got a tax code that nobody can understand; we’ve got a lot of challenges and issues before our country that we have to address and you and the people of Arizona send me to Washington to do the hard things and as President of the United States I want to assure you I’ll go there to do the hard things and one of the things that I’ll tackle immediately is the wasteful and terrible spending practices of Congress," McCain said.

That was the seque into McCain’s discussion of spending reform, then he concluded by talking about Iraq.  Audience members asked three questions about immigration, none of them confrontational or critical.  The third questioner even said he didn’t see what was wrong with the bipartisan compromise McCain had, by then, explained to the crowd in detail.   

As you may have read in the Radio Iowa story linked above, Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo (another GOP presidential candidate) said what happened in the US Senate this week over that immigration reform bill was the "death knell" for McCain’s campaign.  "I think that the silver lining is the fact that we have debated this bill and the fact that (McCain) has pushed it so hard is that it probably means that there will never be a President John McCain," Tancredo said this morning during taping of the IPTV program "Iowa Press."  Tancredo said a lot of stuff.  I’ll link to the transcript when it goes up on the IPTV website.  Here’s the transcript.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Is this concerted effort on behalf of the Democratic & Republican coalition to impliment the (NAU) North American Union? The first stage was to flood our country, with a monolithic tide of foreign nationals, followed by the unrestricted movement of Mexican trucks. Is this an intentional de-construction of the U.S. sovereignty. Is Senator Graham an International Globalist, along with McCain, Kennedy and his Royal Highness Bush and his retinue of corporate mafiosi?
    This non-profit, public awareness website will give you the facts, not suppressed corporate cartel news.