by Leonora Cravotta
Clash Daily Contributor
GOP 2016 candidate Jeb Bush is making some serious miss-steps on the illegal immigration dialogue front. His latest confusing comment was, “I honestly think we need to provide a path to legalized status, not citizenship, for illegal immigrants.”
Well, that statement is as clear as mud. What is the former Florida Governor’s position? Does he view “earned legal status” as a step towards citizenship? Or is earned legal status the only and final option for illegal immigrants? Just this week, Bush lost the front runner status to business man Donald Trump who outpaces Bush in two separate polls. Trump is now leading the pack because he is not afraid to “put his money where his mouth is.” And Donald Trump is “balls to the walls” about illegal immigration, stating clearly and unequivocally that he is against it.
It sounds like Jeb Bush is talking out of both sides of his mouth. On one hand, he is playing to the traditional conservatives by refusing to openly support citizenship for illegal immigrants. On the other hand, Bush, who speaks fluent Spanish, is simultaneously pandering to the Latino community by giving them a glimmer of hope that citizenship could be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Earlier this year, Bush indicated that he would be willing to consider legislation that included “a pathway to citizenship” but undermined his statement by saying that there was not currently enough political support for the idea. Of course, it doesn’t help that he recently commented that “Many who illegally come to the United States do so out of an “act of love” for their families” and should be treated differently than people who illegally cross U.S. borders or overstay visas.
By being “vague on immigration”, Bush is creating a hole for himself from which he will have difficulty digging out. True conservatives are going to abandon him in favor of a candidate with a hard line stance on illegal immigration. Republicans who support amnesty and Independents aren’t going to support him because they don’t trust him.
Donald Trump’s rapid rise to front-runner status can be attributed to his willingness to stand up boldly and aggressively against illegal immigration. And of course he famously took heat for his comments where he referred to illegal immigrants from Mexico as “drug dealers” and “rapists”. He paid the price for his “choice words” with the loss of contracts from Univision, NBC Universal and Macy’s.
Bush’s other key competitors are also coming on strong against illegal immigration. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has been making strong statements against illegal immigration despite past comments where he supported a path to citizenship. Florida Senator Marco Rubio is also trying to convey a tough stance by focusing on securing the border. Rubio is also trying to distance himself from the leadership role he played in passing immigration reform in the Senate in 2013.
Going forward, Bush needs to be more decisive when speaking about illegal immigration. His carefully parsed words and lack of specificity aren’t going to win him any votes. Bush needs to stop wavering and start speaking with precision about his immigration platform. If he is truly against citizenship for illegal immigrants, he needs to say it and let the chips fall where they may. True leaders stand up for their principles. If Bush wants to be the next president of the United States, he needs to have the courage of his convictions and articulate a clear position on illegal immigration. If Bush continues to waffle, he will permanently lose his lead to Trump or another candidate with a more clearly articulated position.
Leonora Cravotta is the lead writer/editor for BugleCall.org; and the Co-Host for the Scott Adams Show, a political radio talk show. Her professional background includes over fifteen years in corporate and nonprofit marketing. She holds a B.A. in English and French from Denison University, an M.A. in English from University of Kentucky and an M.B.A. from Fordham University. The Scott Adams show is available on Buglecall.org, Red State Talk Radio, iTunes, Tune-In, Spreaker, Stitcher and Soundcloud