Last month, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) reelection campaign called on challenger and former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) to disavow the endorsement of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), an anti-immigrant group that the Anti-Defamation League accuses of promoting “virulent anti- Hispanic and anti-immigrant rhetoric” and “adopting the tactics and rhetoric of racist groups and moving it into the mainstream.”
Let’s be clear: Congressman [J.D.] Hayworth’s continued flirtation with extreme groups that condone racism only opens the door for liberals to falsely paint all opponents of illegal immigration as bigots. Congressman Hayworth should immediately disavow this group’s support and commit to never again associating himself with groups that accept this kind of hateful and counterproductive rhetoric,” McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers said in a statement Friday.
It’s the latest iteration of one of McCain’s most consistent messages: that Hayworth, a vocal immigration hawk, holds views that go beyond the conservative mainstream and into the fringe.
Hayworth isn’t just facing heat from McCain. Somos Republicans — an Arizona group which disassociates itself from the local and state Republican Party in an effort to register more Latinos — released a statement pounding Hayworth:
Arizona Hispanic Republicans will not be supporting J.D. Hayworth who was recently endorsed by ALIPAC…The Arizona Republican Party cannot afford to have their politicians embrace organizations like ALIPAC who use racial slurs such as “wetbacks,” “taco-benders,” and the like, especially in our State of Arizona where the legal Hispanic population is 30%. Supporting these types of politicians will thrust the State of Arizona into a Democratic State, much like we recently witnessed in our neighboring State of New Mexico.
When asked about these “racial slurs,” ALIPAC director William Gheen told Phoenix New Times writer James King to “contact him by e-mail in the future so he could shove a hard copy of our questions ‘up [our] ass.'” Gheen also threatened to “sue the s$*& out of” the New Times for even asking about racist language on the Web site.
Somos Republicans have recommended that Arizona Republicans learn a lesson from Colorado — a state where former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) alienated Latinos with his anti-immigrant rhetoric and caused the state to turn from “red to blue.” That’s probably why FreedomWorks chairman and tea party strategist Dick Armey, who has identified Tancredo as the “cheerleader of jerkiness in the immigration debate” and an un-wanted tea party patriot, has decided not to back Hayworth. “J.D. had a fairly short, undistinguished congressional career with virtually no initiative on his part. I just don’t see any reason why we should be concerned about that race,” stated Armey.
While the McCain campaign, Somos Republicans, and even Dick Armey all make good points, they side-step the fact that the Republican Party has repeatedly legitimized — if not elevated — its anti-immigrant fringe. The Republican National Committee’s 2008 party platform offered nothing but enforcement-only solutions to the country’s broken immigration system and outright opposed “amnesty.” Meanwhile, right-wing Republicans did everything in their power to block comprehensive immigration reform in 2006 and 2007. This year, no other Republican — not even McCain — has demonstrated willingness to push for immigration reform in 2010. Quite the contrary, McCain has allowed himself to be intimidated by Hayworth’s hard line immigration views and has moved his own immigration platform further to the right.