ORLANDO — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio criticized the political right and left for simplifying and exploiting immigration, appearing before a Hispanic group here Friday not long before President Barack Obama took the stage and accused Republicans of inaction on the contentious issue.
"As long as this issue of immigration is a political pingpong that each side uses to win elections and influence votes, I'm telling you, it won't get solved," Rubio told about 1,000 members of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
"Why is this issue simplified? I'll tell you right now: because it is powerful politics," the Florida Republican said. "I have seen people use it to raise money. I have seen people take the legitimate concerns about illegal immigration and turn it into panic. And turn that panic into fear and anger. And turn that anger into votes and money."
Obama came to Orlando having pre-empted Rubio on a plan to help young illegal immigrants and was wildly cheered for the move blocking deportations. (Left unsaid: Obama has overseen the most aggressive deportation record in modern history.)
"I don't care who gets the credit. I don't," Rubio insisted. "But it exposes the fact that this issue is all about politics for some people. Not just Democrats, Republicans, too." (story here, video below)