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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio not invited to WH for immigration talks



Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are headed to the White House to discuss immigration reform. Why not Florida Sen. Marco Rubio?

He wasn't invited.

"We’re just glad Senators McCain and Graham are meeting with the president," Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said. "There are big differences between the president’s plan and the bipartisan approach in the Senate, so this sort of discussion is constructive. It’s really important the president understand Republicans’ commitment to security triggers and a robust temporary worker program, and the importance of sending undocumented immigrants to the back of the line as part of our plan to modernize our immigration system."

Rubio's office cautioned against reading too much into the snub. Rubio has a careful balancing act on the issue and getting too cozy with Obama may hurt him among some conservatives already uneasy with his leadership on the issue.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, the fourth Republican in the "gang of 8," is also not attending.

UPDATE 1:34 p.m.: White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about the meeting today.


Q    Jay, Senators Graham and McCain, our understanding is, are invited to the White House later today.  Is that about immigration?  Or is that about sequestration and defense?

MR. CARNEY:  The meeting arose out of the President's telephone calls with Senator McCain -- I believe the telephone call with Senator McCain when he was calling members of the so-called Gang of Eight on immigration.  Senator Graham also is a member of that.  And I'm sure immigration will be a topic of conversation today.  But I also expect, given the leading role that those Senators play in their party in the Senate that other topics will be addressed, including sequester.  I think Senator Graham said yesterday in public in an interview that he hopes that sequester will be on the table as a topic of discussion.  And I know that the President will want to discuss that as well.

Q    Why not Flake and Rubio, too?

MR. CARNEY:  My understanding is this arose from a conversation with Senator McCain -- the meeting did.  The President spoke with Senator Rubio, he spoke with other members of the Gang of Eight, including Democratic members, and looks forward to working with them on immigration reform.  As I think Margaret points out, I think we expect more than one topic of conversation in this meeting.


[Last modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 2:17pm]


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