Skip to comments.Tancredo tour sows national seeds
Posted on 08/04/2005 4:04:16 PM PDT by 4.1O dana super trac pak
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Rep. Tom Tancredo is trying to become the Johnny Appleseed of the immigration reform movement.
State to state, small town to small town, he's spreading the seeds for a national grass-roots movement.
The question is whether he can make it grow beyond a core of die-hard local activists so that immigration issues - and maybe Tancredo himself - become serious factors in the 2008 presidential contest.
With that in mind, the Littleton Republican on Wednesday wrapped up a two-day tour around the suburbs of Charleston, S.C.
Tancredo got plenty of local media attention for the trip, which closely followed his tour of the early presidential caucus state of Iowa. He raised money and lined up enthusiastic new volunteers for the political action committee he founded, Team America PAC, which supports immigration reform-minded candidates.
But he also was greeted by smaller-than-expected audiences at events Tuesday and Wednesday, and he continues to be distracted by the controversy over his remarks suggesting that the United States could threaten Muslim holy sites to deter nuclear terrorist attacks on U.S. cities.
Still, the South Carolina tour confirmed that Tancredo has fans far from his Denver suburbs district - and some want him to push the fight against illegal immigration all the way to the White House.
"It has got to be him because he is the issue," retired Army Lt. Col. Tom Loftain said Wednesday after a breakfast reception in Summerville, S.C.
Joe Kress, a retired Air Force officer, agreed.
"He's not going to get anywhere unless he gets in the presidential politics," Kress said. "He wants a voice. He wants national attention. That's the way to go."
More than 2 1/2 years before the presidential contest heats up, Tancredo has now stumped in the three states that lead off the traditional primary season calendar: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
As a little-known fourth-term congressman who's often on the outs with his own party leadership, Tancredo knows he faces the longest of odds to win the White House. He keeps saying he just wants to pressure other contenders to embrace his hard line about securing the borders and oppose President Bush's proposed guest-worker plan, which he equates to "amnesty" for illegal immigrants.
In case he decides to run, however, he already has the makings of a volunteer force in eastern Iowa, and now, South Carolina.
"He's the only voice of reason I see," said R.E. "Reggie" Sharpe, a sheriff's detective who arranged a Tuesday night meeting for Tancredo at a Fraternal Order of Police hall in Hanahan, S.C. "Most people are reluctant to speak (against illegal immigration), lest you get a label."
For years, critics have accused Tancredo of racism or xenophobia. On his recent barnstorming trips in Iowa and South Carolina, he has tried to send a message to racists who might be in the audiences.
"This is not a race issue," he told Wednesday's gathering in Summerville. "If there's anyone who comes at the issue with that kind of a mind-set, I say, 'Get lost.' "
In South Carolina, some people who shook hands with Tancredo said they were hearing his name for the first time. He has a daunting task if he wants to raise his national profile to be on par with other rumored presidential contenders such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and former New York Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
In his recent travels, he's trying to take advantage of the political vacuum between the 2004 and 2006 elections, when most of the bigger-name presidential wannabes are lying low.
Is he just trying to stir the issue? Or is he really thinking about a run?
Even his biggest fans are not sure.
"I think he's running a national campaign," said Ron Turner, who invited Tancredo to address the Low Country Conservative GOP Breakfast Club on Wednesday. "His national campaign is immigration reform. What we don't know is what his political aspirations are."
"Is he just trying to stir the issue? Or is he really thinking about a run?"
He's just stirring the issue (and it does need stirring). I doubt he really has any interest in the white house and the republicans would smear him seven ways from Sunday to prevent it. However the GOP had better wake up and admit that they have a serious problem when it comes to border control.
"We have to get a president who will do something about (illegal immigration) -- that's why I'm here," he said. Though he also has visited Iowa, another crucial primary state, he said he has no presidential aspirations of his own. He said he would support somebody taller and better-looking.
"I'm too short, I'm too fat, I'm too bald to be the president of the United States," he said.
I just hope he isn't in danger of holding his congressional seat because of his recent remarks about possible responses to Muslim extremist setting off a nuke in the United States. I know the Dems talked a big game in 2004 about upsetting him with some phony moderate challenger, and while Tancredo beat her by 20 points, I believe it was a relatively lower showing for him.
It would be nice if Tancredo could force the eventual nominee to adopt positions that at least resemble conservative values. While I doubt Giuliani could get the nomination, he is nonetheless thought of as a frontrunner right now with McCain, and its a pretty safe bet that both would be atrocious on immigration. McCain has even sponsored a stealth amnesty with Ted Kennedy, so a little pressure from the base would be nice.
Without such pressure, its easy to imagine GOP primary debates where discourse over immigration never rises above the nauseating platitudes that have somehow come to substitute for rational arguments.
You really need to get this right.
It is chaired by Pat's sister Bay Buchanan, not Pat himself.
right.....and no I don't believe it for a second....
not with Buchanan at any rate....
The critics, of course, being the illegal immigration cheerleaders and the racist organizations that support them including LULAC, MALDEF, La Raza, and MEChA.
I don't intend to vote for any republican who isn't willing to take a firm stance on border control. The GOP has time to prove something to me but they had better not waste it and they better not try to feed me doublespeak.
If they wait till the last few months or weeks to pretend to support border control it will be too late. I'll vote for 3rd parties or write myself in.
" Run by Pat Buchanan no less..."
Which democrat paid you to make that statement? You know it is simply a lie.
Is this animus towards Pat Buchanan inspired solely by his genuinely conservative stances on immigration, or is there more to it?
I mean, I think he's wrong about Israel, but he's correct on immigration and the culture war.
Well, at least he'd be getting advice from someone who was correct about GOALS 2000, shutting down the borders, NAFTA, etc. vs. one of the country club conservatives that see no problem with huge trade and budget deficits, swarms of illegals, nation-wrecking trade agreements.....just so taxes stay low.
McCain is a frustraing character. On the one hand he does have a fairly solid conservative lifetime voting record -- http://www.acuratings.org/statedelegation.asp?state=az -- but it has been less conservative as of late, and one gets the feeling that he'll continue moving left if that's what it takes to maintain his adoring press.
He voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, but voted for the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. He has come out both for and against overturning Roe vs Wade. He has been mostly pro-Second Amendment.
I think the one thing that could really put McCain over the top in winning the nomination is a promise to the social conservative base that he would appoint Scalia/Thomas types to the Sup Court.
Giuliani would have a lot of credentials with law and order and national security, but he's too liberal on social issues. McCain at least does have a record of casting many conservative votes in the culture war.
So while I agree that neither would be ideal, I do however think McCain's chances are pretty good. And unless he can be pressured into dropping his support for amnesty, then I think we could look forward to at least 4 more years of having no chance for good immigration reform, because Hillary would clearly be no better.
At first, I thought Tancredo's remarks about Mecca were stupid and terminal. Now I'm thinking they are principled. Anything could happen between now and 2008. If the wrong thing happens, Tancredo's remarks may make him President.