“It’s an issue whose half-life has already been exhausted,” said Douglas Gross, a political operative in the early-primary state of Iowa. “There are other issues on people’s mind. That’s why this is smart on Rubio’s part. Part of being seen as the next generation of leadership is taking on an issue that leads the party to a new place. If he wants to be seen as a leader, that is what he has to do, even though this isn’t really that tough of an issue.”…

“Rubio has been calling it ‘earn-esty,’ not ‘amnesty,’ and that’s the difference between then and now,” said Chad Connelly, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, which in 2007 was tepid on Bush’s effort. “People are looking to him. He’s got the Latino background, so they want to find out his take.”…

As for any conservatives angry at Rubio’s apostasy?

“They will get over it. Conservatives will reach a point where they are tired of losing on the national level and on the state level and they will get it over it.”