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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

WH: Rubio's immigration ideas 'bode well for a productive, bipartisan debate'



White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today said Sen. Marco Rubio's immigration ideas "bode well for a productive, bipartisan debate," but he stopped from saying more because Rubio's ideas are not on paper. Carney was also pressed on why the White House hasn't reached out to Rubio or other Republicans. 

QUESTION: Last summer, you said the president had not spoken ever with Senator Marco Rubio about immigration. Now Rubio has come out and sort of laid out his key points on immigration. Has the president or anyone senior from the White House spoken with him yet about it?

CARNEY: Well, I think Senator Rubio at the time had, I think -- I think demonstrated and reported absence of support among Republican leaders for even the issues that he was discussing. The president has put forward -- and there is a blueprint on that demonstrates this -- an approach to comprehensive immigration reform that he believes we need to move forward on and that you can expect him to move forward on in the relatively near future.

The fact is, we are encouraged -- referring now to recent reports -- that Senator Rubio's thinking -- as reported -- so closely reflects the president's blueprint for reform. The president has long called for partners from both sides of the aisle. And he has lamented the absence of partners from the other side of the aisle. It used to be a bipartisan pursuit, comprehensive immigration reform. For a while, it ceased to be. But he certainly hopes that it will be in the future.

And the reports about Senator Rubio's ideas bode well for a productive, bipartisan debate, which we hope will start in earnest soon after the inauguration. We hope that it signals a change in the Republican approach to this issue, because if we are going to get this done, it's going to take more than just a handful of Republicans working across the aisle. It's a kind of thing, comprehensive immigration reform, that requires significant bipartisan support. And he hopes that this augers well for the future.

QUESTION: But why rely on reports and what you hope he's thinking? Why not pick up the phone and call Marco Rubio?

CARNEY: Well, you're suggesting that we won't?

QUESTION: Or any Republican on immigration.

CARNEY: Well, I -- there is no question that as we move forward with immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reform, that it will involve engagement with Democrats and Republicans. And you can expect that that will happen.

Again, to my knowledge, Senator Rubio has yet to put anything on paper or -- or draw up any legislation. We welcome reports of his positions and look forward to working with him and other Republicans in pursuit of comprehensive immigration reform, because it's the right thing to do for the country, and the president considers it a high priority.

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 5:17pm]


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