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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio's mixed signals on immigration not alarming fellow 'Gang' members

Is he in or out?

As Sen. Marco Rubio continues to navigate the politics of immigration reform, he's sending mixed signals about his support of the bill he helped write. "Is Senator Rubio Backing Off His Own Bill?" asks a news relase from the pro-reform America's Voice.

This morning on Fox, Rubio said he's not confident the bill could get the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. He sounded more upbeat on CNBC, saying he thinks House Republicans could approve an immigration bill if it gives assurances the issue will be dealt with for good.

All the while Rubio continues to work on amending the Senate bill, which hits the floor next week, to put more emphasis on border security.

Lawmakers close to the issue are confident Rubio's still on board, acknowledging the Florida Republican's political footwork. "I think he gets it," Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters today. "I think he's trying to grow the vote."

Added Graham: "If we're not able to pass immigration reform 2013 and it's the Republican Party's fault, we're dead in 2016. The party that is seen as stopping immigration reform is going to pay a heavy price."

Sen. Charles Schumer, generally speaking about Rubio's behind-the-scenes work, said: "We're open to that and welcome it, actually. My view has always been that the American people will support common sense solutions to the 11 million and future legal immigration if they feel future illegal immigration will be stopped, and a strengthened border is a good part of that."

Opponents, meanwhile, continue to focus on Rubio. The Federation for American Immigration Reform, which wants fewer people coming in the country, has launched TV ads in Tampa and elsewhere that assert Rubio and the Gang of 8 are making the same promises made in 1986.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 3:46pm]


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