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Cantor Afraid To Say Whether He’s For Or Against AZ Immigration Law, Calls It ‘A False Choice’

By Ben Armbruster  

"Cantor Afraid To Say Whether He’s For Or Against AZ Immigration Law, Calls It ‘A False Choice’"

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Since Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed an over-reaching and radical anti-immigration bill into law last week, various conservative media figures, pundits, and former officials have spoken out against it. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough called it “un-American,” while Florida GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio said he has “concerns.” However, Republican members of Congress have largely remained silent — with only a handful offering support, coming out against the law, or declining to pick one side or the other.

Yesterady on ABC News’ Top Line, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) chose the non-committal route. Top Line hosts Rick Klein and David Chalian asked Cantor where he stood on the law four times, but the Virginia Republican refused to go on record either way. At one point, Cantor tried to dismiss the questioning, calling it “a false choice,” without any real explanation as to why:

CHALIAN: How is that a false choice?!

CANTOR: Because no one is going to accept the lawlessness. First and foremost, we are a country of laws. Now are you asking whether I think that America is a country of opportunity? Absolutely. Are we a country built on immigrants? Absolutely.

CHALIAN: I’m asking you if you agree with Marco Rubio that the law goes too far. That’s what I’m asking.

CANTOR: Listen, I can tell you this, I am for making sure that America remains a country that stands of freedom and opportunity for everyone and that means we ought to concentrate on enforcing the law and making sure that we enhance legal immigration so that we can continue to grow and prosper so that we can get America back to work.

Watch it:

As ThinkProgress has previously noted, it appears that some Republicans are unwilling to alienate the right-wing base of their constituencies by coming out against the law. But at the same time, they are afraid to drive the GOP further away from Latinos. Cantor is trying to walk this fine line in a not-so-clever way.

Transcript:

KLEIN: Congressman a big debate going on right now over immigration reform and we know what’s going on in Arizona. I just want to ask you this has kind of split Republicans almost down the middle. Do you support what Arizona is doing, this new law that they passed?

CANTOR: Look, Arizona is a border state. You know, events on the ground gave rise to what that legislature in Arizona had to do because of the lawlessness that started to occur. And frankly what that speaks to is a federal government, an administration that has just not done its job. That’s where the focus needs to be. The people of Arizona again, they’re living in a border state. When you’ve got killing going on, trespassing on property, and lawlessness in our country, no wonder people are upset.

CHALIAN: Right but Congressman, you are a national Republican voice, are you in the Jeb Bush – Marco Rubio – Karl Rove camp that this law that Jan Brewer signed in Arizona, goes too far, is unenforcable, or lots of questions around how it will be enforced. Or are you in the McCain – Kyl – Brewer camp in support of the law? Which camp are you in?

CANTOR: I think that’s a false choice.

CHALIAN: How is that a false choice?!

CANTOR: Because no one is going to accept the lawlessness. First and foremost we are a country of laws. Now are you asking whether I think that America is a country of opportunity? Abosolutely. Are we a country built on immigrants? Absolutely.

CHALIAN: I’m asking you if you agree with Marco Rubio that the law goes too far. That’s what I’m asking.

CANTOR: Listen, I can tell you this, I am for making sure that America remains a country that stands of freedom and opportunity for everyone and that means we ought to concentrate on enforcing the law and making sure that we enhance legal immigration so that we can continue to grow and prosper so that we can get America back to work.

‹ ThinkFast: April 29, 2010

The WonkLine: April 29, 2010 ›

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