John McCain on immigration: Ed Morrissey’s CQ Radio.

Here is an excerpt of Ed’s interview with Senator McCain from Tuesday…

SM: By the way, we’ve got plenty of time, Ed so. Go ahead.

EM: Ok, Ok great. Now, have you or your coalition begun to do any sort of vote counting on the Immigration Bill that’s in congress. Do you got a sense of where that’s going?

SM: Hm. No because it varies with the issues but we did beat back, you know, some rather crippling amendments. One of them by one vote in the weeks debate. I think what’s going to happen people are going to go home and get a sense of where their constituents are and so it could be shifting, know what I mean

EM: Right, do you sense some; are you sensing any momentum towards the compromise?

SM: Well, as you know, I am always digging for the pony but I think that that New York Times poll and other polling data that I’ve seen indicates that the majority of Americans but more importantly to me, majority of Republicans favor this approach to a comprehensive approach and the specifics, so I hope that’s felt and I understand that talk show is, most of the conservative talk shows are very strongly opposed although I am glad to see Bill O’Reilly and some others are, you know, at least willing to see how this thing turns out, but overall, I was encouraged by a lot of the polling data that I saw

EM: You know, Senator, that Rasmussen did a poll last week that showed that there was an overwhelming amount of support for a borders-first approach, or at least – wait, let me actually make that a little more accurate — there was an enormous amount of support for a border security be the most important part of this. I mean, you’ve worked on this issue for years; why can’t we do a border security bill, a really comprehensive border security bill first and then get to normalization later?

SM: Well, that’s exactly what we are doing in my view and that’s why this eighteen-month period, of securing the border, appropriating the money, building the fences or at least certainly have the plans, hiring the, now it’s up to twenty thousand, I believe, border guards is vital to it. You see, I think one of the reasons why last time, although it got to the Senate it wasn’t going anywhere in the House was because the people in the House who I admit that they are very close to their constituents, said exactly that, “Look, you’re going to do what we did in ‘86”. You’re going to say that we’re going to fix the border but you didn’t and we got many millions more people coming in this country illegally. So, we’re trying to emphasize the trigger that eighteen month which by the way was born of Johnny Isaaccson, the Senator from Georgia that we have to have that certification by the Department of Homeland Security and I would imagine before this legislation is done, it will have to be certified by somebody else too, like maybe the government accountability office or you know somebody like that. So, we’re trying to emphasize that, Ed, border security first. National security, national security, national security. Three people who wanted to attack Fort Dix got across our border illegally.

EM: And I think that’s the reason why a lot of conservatives have kind of taken a deep breath and taken a second look at this approach. I think the issue is, for them, how to get them to trust that Congress and the enforcing agencies are actually going to follow through on those border triggers and border security triggers and employment triggers in a way that they feel safe about proceeding on to the next level. I think that this is basically saying we just don’t trust Congress to do it.

SM: And that skepticism is well justified because of what happened in ’86. Look, we all love and revere Ronald Reagan. We want to do everything exactly like him and I quote him every other sentence but you know, that was a failure in that administration. We said we would secure the borders in return for giving amnesty, we didn’t secure the borders, we gave amnesty so the skepticism and concern is very legitimate. The response I have to that is, one, then you want to maintain the status quo, which we all agree is unacceptable. The status quo is totally unacceptable and one of the responses that very quickly will be, well just enforce existing laws. Nobody believes that, Chertoff doesn’t believe it, nobody believes it and if we leave the status quo, then you have de facto amnesty. You have de facto amnesty because they will be allowed to stay here. And so we, I understand the skepticism, it is legitimate because of their remembrance of the past and people are frankly, I’m not going to use the word frightened, but people are deeply concerned about a situation where our national security is involved, because this whole issue changed since 9/11. We’ve got to show them two things. 1. A legitimate path to securing our borders but also convince them that alone, just securing the border alone, will not solve the problem. Thirty percent of the people here illegally, as you know Ed, didn’t come across our border they came here with a valid visa, just over staying. You’ve got to dry up that magnet that’s pulling people across which is the jobs and prove to the skeptics that they cannot get a job unless they go through this proper process that we are setting up which means a tamper proof biometric document…

The transcript can be found at Heading Right and the podcast is available on the CQ Radio Homepage.

My hat off to Ed Morrissey.  John McCain and Mitt Romney in the same week.  Ed is truly an ambassador for citizen journalism.  And the courtesy extended to any of us by newsmakers is due in part to his efforts.  If you aren’t tuning in to CQ Radio every day, you’re just missing the boat.



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