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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

On immigration, Marco Rubio urges right to tone it down



WASHINGTON — With growing signs that Hispanic voters are turned off to GOP positions on immigration, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is trying to use his national profile to deliver a message to his party: Tone it down.

"The Republican Party should not be labeled as the anti-illegal immigration party. Republicans need to be the pro-legal immigration party," the Florida lawmaker said on Fox News Monday morning.

The appearance follows other efforts in the past two weeks — including a story in the Wall Street Journal and a speech in Texas — in which Rubio has criticized inflammatory immigration rhetoric.

"You're talking about somebody's mothers and grandmothers and brothers and sisters," Rubio, the 40-year-old son of Cuban immigrants, said in Dallas.

His efforts constitute a tricky act of political maneuvering. Rubio, viewed by GOP leaders as a powerful draw for Hispanics, is trying to sound a more welcoming note without alienating the grass-roots conservatives who swept him into office in 2010 and who are vociferously pushing for tighter enforcement.

And his willingness to step out on a highly contentious issue is sure to fuel talk that he's interested in a vice presidential spot, despite repeatedly insisting otherwise.

Rubio even visited to the U.S.-Mexico border while in Texas, going to a spot near where President Barack Obama did in May after criticism that he had not seen the security challenge for himself.

Story here.

And here's an earlier story in which Rubio was being pushed in the other direction by some tea party supporters. They wanted him to get more involved in immigration legislation.

[Last modified: Monday, November 14, 2011 11:42pm]


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