Speaking on the Senate floor in March 2006, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) argued for comprehensive immigration reform, stating that “while strengthening border security is an essential component of national security, it must also be accompanied by immigration reforms.”
But while seeking the GOP nomination for president, McCain “encountered anger from hard-line immigration foes,” particularly over his support for a bill that would “have allowed most undocumented immigrants to work toward citizenship.” Thus, in order to pander to the far right during the primary, McCain changed his position, saying the U.S. must secure the borders before undocumented immigrants are dealt with, thereby discarding the “comprehensive” nature of his previous immigration position:
[I] have pledged that it would be among my highest priorities to secure our borders first, and only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure, would we address other aspects of the problem in a way that defends the rule of law and does not encourage another wave of illegal immigration.
But now that McCain has all but locked up the nomination, he has to start dancing. Trying to court Latino voters, McCain flipped back to his original position, saying he now supports “comprehensive immigration reform“:
MCCAIN: We get in this kind of a circular firing squad on immigration reform in the Congress of the United States, and the lesson I learned from it is we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform.
During a January 30 GOP presidential debate, McCain stated that he “would not” vote for his own comprehensive immigration bill if it came to a vote on the Senate floor. Yet, just three days earlier, McCain said that as president, he would sign it if Congress passed the bill.
Whether it is Americans’ economic situation, earmarks or bigoted right wing pastors, McCain’s constant flip-flopping makes his presidential candidacy difficult to follow. Indeed, trying to appeal to both the right wing of the Republican Party and independent-minded Americans at the same time can get a little confusing.