STORY #1: Forget he said anything
Given the events of this week, which I won’t even discuss because that was such a dumb story, it’s unclear at this point exactly how high Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) ranks on former Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R-MA) list of potential running mates. If he’s not in the top two, he’s certainly doing a good job of deferring to the top half of the ticket. Last week he held the solution to congressional Republican inaction on illegal immigration; this week he decided to put it away.
According to Rubio’s spokesperson, President Obama’s executive order granting temporary legal status to the clean-nosed kids – my new term for people who meet Obama’s criteria for said status – “took away our momentum and made the politics a lot tougher.” To which I say: So?! Rubio is savvier than this; he could have used the announcement to tongue-lash Obama for flexing his executive muscle while he’s actually working on a long-range plan. What a waste. I expected better from Rubio.
STORY #2: Maybe this is better?
On the other hand, as I hinted in the opening paragraph, perhaps Rubio knew Romney was waiting to trot out his own plan and decided to step aside for it. The basics: an end to immigration caps for spouses and minor children; green cards for clean-nosed kids who graduate with advanced degrees; a “reallocation” of green cards, whatever that means; and, possibly, a completed border fence. He didn’t talk about that much.
If we’re using Obama’s DREAM Act as a barometer, Romney’s plan is broader (encompassing more of what’s wrong with the existing immigration system) but not quite as deep (would apply to fewer people, or at least fewer people in the clean-nosed kid category). Imagine how Romney could own the political momentum if he offered to work with Obama on this, combining the best aspects of both their plans, since he clearly agrees with certain principles of the DREAM Act. Don’t hold your breath, though.
STORY #3: It’s the border, stupid?
I’m not the first person who noticed that immigration reform dominated the news cycle this week; Associated Press is all up in this, saying the matter has ceased to be “a backburner issue.” (Is “backburner” a word?) But that’s just this week. With jobs, Fast and Furious and Commerce Secretary John Bryson’s departure, something is bound to knock it off the top of the list any minute now. That’s just the nature of news. Don’t be entirely surprised if, after this Sunday’s talk shows, immigration doesn’t come up again until Romney and Obama’s first debate.