Senator John McCain held a jam packed town hall meeting in Petersborough, New Hampshire this morning broadcast live on C-SPAN. McCain’s remarks to the crowd were spirited and well received. He highlighted the success of our brave men and women in Iraq and his early support of General Petraeus’s strategy. A rousing and sustained round of applause greeted the end of his remarks - even bringing a smile to the face of the often crotchety Senator. McCain then opened the floor to questions. To his credit, McCain takes as many questions from the audience as any candidate. Many members of the audience had concerns about his stance on immigration. An American of Indian descent standing in the last row of the balcony had an immigration question for Senator McCain.

Question from a legal immigrant in the audience

“Senator McCain, I am an immigrant. Though I look like I’m from Brooklyn, New York I’m all the way from India. I came here in 1971. Unlike my fellow compatriots I did not come here to get a degree or to get a job – I came here to become an American. (Huge applause) I am as proud as anybody in here: red, white and blue. But I have a question to ask you that is a little sticky. I don’t understand political correctness when it comes to illegal aliens, or illegal immigrants, being called “guest workers” when I worked hard and I’ve been independently in my business for 37 years as of January 13. I’ve never asked the government for a dollar and I’m a proud American and I don’t understand for the love of me Republicans and Democrats calling illegal immigrants “guest workers” and providing them and allowing them all kinds of services. I’m given to understand that you endorse some of them. You seem like such a fine man, I want your position on it.” A man wearing a John McCain sweatshirt stood behind him nodding approvingly throughout his question. The crowd also broke into another round of applause for his question. McCain’s response?

“I stopped beating my wife some time ago. This meeting is adjourned.” That was a funny response, but what followed was not.

“Sir, I do not support, nor would I ever support any services provided to someone who came to this country illegally. Nor would I ever, and have never, supported Social Security benefits for people who are in this county illegally. That is absolutely false.”

However, in 2006 Republican Senators proposed an amendment that would have prevented anyone who received legal status under McCain-Kennedy from receiving credit toward future Social Security benefits for the time they had worked in the United States illegally. McCain was one of 11 Republicans who
voted to table or “kill” the amendment.

Anybody who says McCain supported amnesty is a liar

McCain said that he wants to secure the borders, have a temporary worker program that works and make sure we never have a problem with illegal immigration again. McCain said, “As far as quote ‘amnesty’ is concerned...Joe Lieberman said, ‘I worked with John McCain on this bill and anybody who says that he’s ever supported amnesty is a liar.’ My friends, I do not support amnesty.”

The fact remains that
Title VI of the McCain-Kennedy bill would have granted amnesty for virtually all of the up to 20 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States. To initially qualify for change of status through a Z visa, an illegal immigrant would only need a job (or be the parent, spouse, or child of someone with a job), provide two documents suggesting they entered the country before January 1, 2007, and have remained here since then. A bank statement, pay stub, or anything easily forgeable would do, including a sworn affidavit from a non-relative (Section 601(i)(2)). That is amnesty.

At what McCain described as the “media gaggle” with reporters after the meeting, he repeated his claim. “Do you want to believe Joe Lieberman? He said anybody who says that I ever supported amnesty – it’s a lie, and it is.” Hiding behind someone else’s words is becoming an ever increasingly used tactic of McCain. For instance, he never personally referred to Mitt Romney as a phony. He just paid for commercials to let everyone know the Manchester Union Leader called Romney a phony.

The new Straight Talk Express – hightail it out the door as fast as you can

McCain then worked his way through the crowd shaking hands, stopping for pictures, hugging veterans, and telling a reporter from Manchester television station WMUR they are “jerks” and WMUR correspondent Steve Cooper is the “biggest jerk”. A middle aged woman approached the Senator and tried to ask him a question about immigration.

“In 2005 you co-sponsored the Kennedy-McCain bill that since then has been updated a number of times and yet when Mitt Romney……” McCain abruptly turned away to shake hands with other supporters.

The woman waited patiently and McCain asked, “What is your question?” and proceeded to shake the hands of three more people.

“When Mitt Romney put out an ad….” McCain cut her off and said, “Tell me what your question is”.

She said, “I’m getting there”, but McCain replied, “Then I don’t have the time to answer.”

The woman gave up. She said, “Well, you lost my vote”, turned and walked away.

This finally commanded McCain’s attention. He smiled and said “Thank you very much and I’m glad you did”.

Can we unite behind McCain?

A large portion of the Republican electorate is deeply concerned with McCain’s position on immigration. If he wants to be the Republican nominee, he is going to have to address those concerns. The new Straight Talk Express now appears to be how fast he runs from questions on his previous efforts on immigration.

Is this the man that will unite Republicans in the fall? John McCain is a very determined man and is firm in his beliefs. I absolutely believe him when he says he will go across the aisle to work with the opposition. No doubt. Unfortunately, he may step on the necks of conservative Americans to get there.
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2 Response to 'McCain’s New Position on Immigration: People Who Say I Supported Amnesty are Liars'
  1. Vet4Fred'> January 5, 2008 at 6:07 PM


    First, let me say that I am in no way a McCain supporter, but he does deserve a fair shake, as do all our candidates, though the media seems to single out Fred Thompson to play hell with lately...

    This article seems pretty damning to me, but you do not cite any source(s) for your reporting. Perhaps the author's or reporter's name would suffice. After the POLITICO example, I think we all need to look for higher standards and less bias in journalism and seek confirmation on things like this before jumping on any band-wagon.

    Overall, nicely done, but I would like some sources listed before I sent this link to anyone.



  2. Land of Da Free'> January 5, 2008 at 6:48 PM

    I watched the event on C-SPAN. With the use of my TIVO, I transcribed their quotes word for word, double and triple checking along the way.

    Thanks, Derrel.