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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Past immigration stance still haunts Marco Rubio



In case you missed it:

The Washington Post this weekend took a hard look at Marco Rubio's struggle to overcome his previous stance on immigration:

Sen. Marco Rubio was concluding his remarks about the merits of comprehensive immigration reform when he pointedly defended himself against conservative critics.

"Leaving things the way they are - that's the real amnesty," he said in April 2013, using one of the dirtiest words in the far-right lexicon to illustrate why he stood there as one of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators unveiling a comprehensive immigration reform bill .

More than two years later, as a leading Republican candidate for president, Rubio must once again explain his membership in the group to a skeptical conservative base. After simmering in the background for months, Rubio's past support for comprehensive reform - he has since renounced it - was litigated before a national audience during a Dec. 15 televised debate. In the time since, it has gained a deeper foothold in the daily campaign fray than ever before.

Talk-radio hosts and conservative writers have broughtit up in unflattering ways. Meanwhile, one of Rubio's chief rivals, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has been reminding Republicans of Rubio's participation in the bipartisan effort.

At a time when Donald Trump's harsh anti-immigration rhetoric has strengthened his bid for the Republican nomination, some conservatives believe the renewed spotlight on Rubio's past could amount to a deadly blow. His aides and allies take a different view: He has put forth a clear and reasonable defense of his positions on immigration, in contrast to Cruz, who has not.

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[Last modified: Monday, December 28, 2015 10:06am]


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