Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) reportedly slams America-first Republicans for being on the “wrong side” of the immigration debate in his new book, rehashing the same establishment talking points on the issue that President Donald Trump debunked in 2016.
“Right now, Republicans are on the wrong side of that progress,” McCain reportedly writes in his new book, Restless Wave, according to a Wednesday report in the Guardian. “And if we want to retain our competitiveness in the fastest-growing communities in the country we’ll stop letting the zealots drive the debate, and fix the problems that [give] them their soapbox.”
McCain also urges Republicans to reject those who think America is being “contaminated by the customs of non-European immigrants.”
With the help of his establishment collaborator Mark Salter, McCain repeats the same GOP establishment talking points about how Republicans cannot win elections, minorities, and swing voters without supporting amnesty for nearly all illegal immigrants in a comprehensive immigration package. After the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee produced its infamous and incompetent “autopsy” report in which the only policy solution was amnesty for illegal immigrants.
In 2016, though, Trump made illegal immigration a centerpiece of his economic nationalist campaign. Trump not only won the presidency, but he did so while getting more support among people of color than establishment darling Willard “Mitt” Romney received four years before.
McCain also claimed that America-first Republicans only make up a “small fraction in the Republican Party.” Perhaps McCain was confusing establishment Republicans in the permanent political class with actual voters that they have shown to have absolutely nothing but contempt and disdain for, especially when it comes to immigration and strong borders.
“They’re still a small fraction in the Republican Party. But they’re the ones getting all the attention right now. They need to be confronted, not ignored or winked at or quietly dismissed as kooks,” McCain writes. “They need to be confronted before their noxious views spread further and damage for generations the reputation of the Republican Party.”
Immigration has always been one of the most powerful issues for the GOP base. McCain found that out during his 2008 presidential run when his primary campaign nearly went bankrupt after he teamed up with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) to push comprehensive amnesty legislation, which then-President George W. Bush also backed. At one point, McCain had to carry his own bags and fly in coach class to New Hampshire.
His campaign’s dire financial situation ultimately resulted in McCain being burdened with incompetent advisers who were in over their heads—like Nicolle Wallace and Steve Schmidt—managing his campaign, which was unable to rebut the barrage of ads the Obama campaign unleashed on McCain in key swing states like Virginia.
McCain, though, has been insistent that Congress try again to pass a “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill, telling the Arizona Republic last year it is one of the main issues he would like to see resolved.