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McCain Admits That He Will Cave To Sean Hannity On Immigration, But Ignore Public On Iraq

By Amanda Terkel

"McCain Admits That He Will Cave To Sean Hannity On Immigration, But Ignore Public On Iraq"

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Last night, Fox News’s Hannity and Colmes aired an interview with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). During the segment, McCain confirmed that he turned against comprehensive immigration reform after receiving pressure from the right wing:

HANNITY: After McCain/Kennedy was defeated, you said, I hear you. I understand. People don’t trust us, and they want the borders secured first.

MCCAIN: That’s exactly right. [...]

HANNITY: You are focused on securing the borders?

MCCAIN: Yes, sir.

HANNITY: Not — you look at McCain-Kennedy, the country doesn’t want it?

MCCAIN: We failed. My friend, we failed. I think you noticed, because you were one of the reasons.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/03/mccainimhann66.320.240.flv]

The Maverick is willing to switch his positions for the radical right, but unwilling to do so for everyone else. For example, the senator has repeatedly advocated staying in Iraq, despite opposition from the majority of Americans. In 2007, McCain told CBS’s 60 Minutes that he didn’t care what the American public wanted:

“I believe that we can succeed and I believe the consequences of failure are catastrophic. Those who say just withdraw, then you say, ‘What next?’” McCain asked in the 2007 interview.

“I wonder at what point do you stop doing what you think is right and you start doing what the majority of the American people want?” Pelley asked.

Well, again, I disagree with what the majority of the American people want. Failure will lead to chaos, withdrawal will lead to chaos,” McCain said at the time.

In addition to the Iraq war, McCain switched his position for conservatives on President Bush’s tax cuts, the economic stimulus package, and even his opinions of Karl Rove.

So, to recap: When it comes to hard right conservatives, McCain’s strategy is to cave in to their demands, even if it means switching his own positions. When it comes to the American public, McCain’s strategy is to ignore their opinions and tell them what he (and the right wing) think is best.

Transcript:

HANNITY: I could tell you, Senator, if there was one issue that I know I, as a conservative, and others as a conservative — and I’ve been on the radio 20 years…

MCCAIN: Right.

HANNITY: … and I’ve been expressing my opinions…

MCCAIN: Yes.

HANNITY: … as independently as I think you have yours. And there’s a lot of pride. A lot of people say, well, that’s what they like about Senator John McCain. Hopefully that’s what they like about me as a radio host.

But immigration –

MCCAIN: Yes?

HANNITY: After McCain/Kennedy was defeated, you said, I hear you. I understand. People don’t trust us, and they want the borders secured first.

MCCAIN: That’s exactly right.

HANNITY: What does that mean in terms of practicality?

MCCAIN: It means that I, as president, I would have the border state governors certify that their borders are secure. Americans will trust the border state governors. They won’t trust us in Washington. That’s the message — they want it secure.

And I’m sorry for a long answer, but in ’86, as you may recall…

HANNITY: President Reagan.

MCCAIN: Yes. We said we’d give amnesty and secure the borders. We didn’t secure the borders. We ended up with 12 million or more people here illegally. So there’s no trust there.

So you’ve got to prove to the American people that your borders are secure. Then you move to temper-proof biometric documents for temporary workers.

HANNITY: Right.

MCCAIN: And any employer who hires someone without that, and an employer electronic verification system, then is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I mean, and then we address the issue in a humane and compassionate fashion. They are God’s children, and we can be humane and compassionate about this.

HANNITY: Yes. For conservatives, I would argue that the issue is law-breaking, respecting our sovereignty, the laws of the United States…

MCCAIN: Yes.

HANNITY: And if you didn’t, that there is a penalty to pay. Let me ask you…

MCCAIN: Yes. There should be. There should be.

HANNITY: … you had said that…

MCCAIN: And no one will take priority — if someone who either came here legally or waited to come here legally…

HANNITY: All right, we’ve got less than a minute. Would you sign McCain-Kennedy today or…

MCCAIN: It’s not going to be there. The lesson is, they want the border secured first.

HANNITY: And that’s — that’s your mission now. You are focused on securing the borders?

MCCAIN: Yes, sir.

HANNITY: Not — you look at McCain-Kennedy, the country doesn’t want it?

MCCAIN: We failed. My friend, we failed. I think you noticed, because you were one of the reasons.

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