Mack's Immigration Stance a Major Primary Problem
Rep. Connie Mack's entrance into the Florida Senate campaign will give political pundits another chance to see how potent an issue immigration will be within a Republican primary. Mack, who changed course and jumped into the campaign last night, is viewed as a leading candidate given the Republican field's fundraising struggles and his brand-name in Florida politics (his father, Connie Mack III, served two terms in the Senate from the Sunshine State.)
But he's been a strident critic of Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigration, even comparing the law to Nazi Gestapo tactics during World War II. If Rick Perry's support sunk in the presidential primary because he considered opponents "heartless" for opposing in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants, imagine the damage those comments could cause Mack in a Republican primary.
Immigration has been a very delicate issue for Republicans, even those inclined to take a more moderate approach. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has touted his Cuban-American heritage as a candidate and senator, has tacked right on the issue. Rep. Jeff Flake, who is running for the Senate in Arizona, once co-sponsored a bill with liberal Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Now he's stressing his border security bona fides. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., repositioned himself as an immigration hawk to fend off a primary challenge last year from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.