GOP Could Lose Congress, White House on Immigration

By Jeff Johnson | July 7, 2008 | 8:31pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Many Republicans and some media outlets are praising the immigration proposals outlined by President Bush. But some conservative leaders warned Tuesday that the administration's insistence on a so-called "guest worker" program for illegal aliens could cost the GOP control of Congress later this year and that the alleged arrogance behind the proposal could put a Democrat in the White House in 2008.

President Bush's plan, explained in a nationally televised speech Monday night, included a "guest worker" program for illegal aliens and the use of National Guard troops along the border until more Border Patrol agents can be trained and deployed.

Many Republican leaders complimented the president.

"He understands the issue possibly better than just about anyone given his experience as governor of Texas," Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-N.Y.) told the New York Sun.

"The President's plan is a serious and important first step in rebuilding the confidence of the American people that we can secure our border," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told The [Tennessee] Chattanoogan.

But Richard Viguerie -- the chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, who is credited with creating the political direct mail industry that helps fund the conservative movement -- told Cybercast News Service what the president calls a "guest worker" program is just amnesty for illegal aliens, and that "conservatives feel that they have been insulted by the president.

"He may get his way, but he won't get it this year. He may get it next year because the conservatives will be so angry at the Republican leadership - starting with the president, but the congressional Republicans also - that I'd be surprised if many, many don't stay home, turning the congress over to the Democrats," Viguerie cautioned.

"And, of course, the Democrats, next year, would give the president what he wants because then they'll be able to govern America for the rest of the 21st Century [with the support of former illegal aliens who had become newly-legalized voters]."

In his "End of Day" daily email newsletter to supporters, former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who now heads the "American Values" conservative advocacy group, summarized the reaction of his constituents to Bush's proposal.

"I understand the overnight 'snapshot' polling data on the president's proposal was pretty good, but I cannot say the same for the reaction of conservatives," Bauer wrote. "Your messages to me were overwhelmingly negative, suggesting you view this plan as little more than a 'dressed up amnesty' bill."

Steve Elliott, president of Grassfire.org, an online network of grassroots conservatives with more than one million participants, also believes support for the Bush proposal could cost Republicans in the short and long term.

"If the Senate chooses to resist the voice of the citizens of this country and pass an amnesty bill, there will be repercussions that I think will extend to November and beyond," Elliott predicted.

Viguerie rejected the notion that Democrats, if they regained control of Congress, could do more damage to the conservative agenda than a less-than-supportive president.

"We can't go through life living as if the 'boogey man' is going to get us, which is what the big-government, left-of-center Republicans are always saying," Viguerie said. "We're just sick of that, and I'm just tired of that, being treated like a child ... I've been hearing that all my life."

As for conservatives' ultimate 'boogey man' in the coming presidential election, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Viguerie rejects that threat, as well.

"We won't have lost this country if Hillary becomes president," Viguerie concluded. "It will be those who have betrayed and lied to their supporters. They will bear the responsibility, not those who were true to their principles."

Bush 'A.W.O.L.' on conservative agenda

President Bush continues to insist that his "guest worker" proposal does not offer amnesty to illegal aliens.

"[W]e must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are here already," the president said. "They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it."

Elliott accused Bush of exhibiting a trait more commonly associated with former President Bill Clinton.

"They're playing with the language," Elliott said, recalling President Clinton's famous quote debating the meaning of the word "is."

"Amnesty is any program that grants legal status to people who are here illegally, whether that's citizenship or a guest worker program, that's amnesty," Elliott insisted. "That's what the American people call amnesty and the American people oppose amnesty."

Viguerie believes President Bush's words and actions on the immigration issue are symptomatic of a larger problem in the administration.

From a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, to limiting the power of the federal government over religious institutions, to overturning the Supreme Court's Roe versus Wade decision legalizing abortion at all stages of pregnancy, Viguerie feels Bush has abandoned the conservative agenda.

"Where is he? He's A.W.O.L. in this," Viguerie said. "Where are the evangelicals in this administration? Where are the religious right types?

"This president has surrounded himself with long-term, friendly, big-business types," Viguerie continued. "I just don't think he's done anything except what his father did, which was give us lip service."

Conservatives, Viguerie argued, must shift their focus from changing the minds of Republican leaders to replacing them with individuals who share, and will fight for conservative ideals.

"It's just time that conservatives focus on building the conservative movement and taking over the Republican Party from those who have hijacked it," Viguerie said. "We've done it before and we can do it again."

Make media inquiries or request an interview with Jeff Johnson.

Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-Brief.

E-mail a comment or news tip to Jeff Johnson.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.

MRC Store