Rubio 2013: I can't imagine a Republican president undoing an Obama executive order on amnesty

Is this anecdote from Byron York new or did I miss it when he first published it? Either way, can’t wait until Rubio gets asked whether he still believes this at his first presidential campaign townhall.

Oh, by the way: What he says here is 100 percent correct.

“Here’s my big worry,” Rubio told me during an interview while the bill was making its way through the Senate. “I fear that if this thing fails, the president will basically say to anyone in the U.S. who has been here more than three years, who has not committed a serious crime…he’ll say, ‘We’ll do for you what we did for the DREAM kids.’ And the problem with that will be you will have 10 million people legalized in the United States by executive order, so that when there is a new president, if it is a conservative, a Republican, one of the first decisions they will have to make is whether to yank that status from those people and deport them. I cannot imagine a scenario where a future president is going to take away the status they’re going to get. I believe it’s what [Obama] will do. Maybe not all 10 million, but he’ll do it for six million.”

Could any prediction have been more spot-on? The Gang of Eight bill did indeed fail, and all the rest came to pass, pretty much exactly as Rubio said.

Precisely right. I’ve made the same point repeatedly since O issued his order last fall. No Republican president is going to introduce himself and his party to Latino constituents on day one by summarily torpedoing O’s amnesty order. And Obama knows that. He wouldn’t have gambled on something as dubious and momentous as a massive power grab on immigration if he thought a conservative successor would feel comfortable tossing it out in two years. It will bind the next president, not by force of law but by force of politics. Rubio’s smart enough to have realized that more than a year before O’s order was even issued. What’s remarkable about what he said to York isn’t the insight but the fact that an aspiring Republican presidential candidate would be willing to say it out loud. Which makes me wonder: How are he and the rest of the field going to shake out when asked about rescinding O’s amnesty? Rand Paul’s already introduced a bill in the Senate to repeal Obama’s order, which presumably means President Paul would cancel it. Ted Cruz has said he’ll undo all of Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders if elected, so he’s in on the repeal game too. But then, this call is easy for Paul and Cruz given that their chances depend on consolidating the conservative vote. Candidates who are more towards the middle, like Bush, Walker, and especially Rubio, who’s under pressure to show he’ll hold special appeal to Latino voters in the general election, have to worry more about “electability.” What do they say when asked if they’ll cancel O’s order? Will Rubio promise to do so, having already admitted to York that it’s politically impossible?

While you mull that question, here’s another one: Given the baggage he still carries over amnesty on the right, what is this guy doing boasting on launch day that he’s done more for immigration reform than Hillary Clinton ever has?

“Well, I don’t know about the [other Republican presidential candidates], but I’ve done more on immigration than Hillary Clinton ever did. I mean I helped pass an immigration bill out of a Senate dominated by Democrats,” Rubio said. “She’s given speeches on it, but she’s never done anything on it.”…

Rubio went on to say that the GOP’s problem with minority voters is that it has been portrayed as a party that doesn’t care about people trying to make it in America. “I don’t think people go to the ballot box and say I’m a Latino therefore I’m voting Democrat,” he said. “I think they bring with them their hopes and dreams about the future and they vote for whoever they think best understands it.”

I know, I know — arguably there’s no point in him downplaying his immigration record since he’s going to get clubbed with it anyway. But … why not at least wait until after the primaries to start talking up his big bipartisan amnesty initiative? He’ll have months to do that during the general election campaign, with the full blessing of conservatives in the name of beating Hillary, after he’s won the nomination. Trumpeting his lame achievement with the Gang of Eight right now means reminding primary voters that on this issue, in terms of who’s done more to move the ball on legalizing illegals, he’s to the left of Hillary Clinton. I guess he’s given up on tea-party votes as completely as Jeb has, huh?

Exit question: Remember the time Rubio replied to liberal threats of executive amnesty by urging righties to suck it up and give the left what it wants? Now that’s leadership.