How far has the conversation shifted on immigration since the election? Let’s consider two videos, just over a year apart.
The first is from Republicans For Immigration Reform, a super PAC formed after the election to support pro-immigration politicians within the party who come under attack from the right. On Wednesday they launched their inaugural ad, a TV spot in South Carolina praising Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for working on a bipartisan bill. Take a look:
The group’s co-founder Charlie Spies talked to reporters about the buy on Wednesday. Given the hard work he’s putting in on the immigration issue, it only seemed natural that he’d get asked about Jeb Bush’s surprise decision to publish a book criticizing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. After all, Graham himself complained earlier this month that Bush “undercut” negotiations by moving the conversation to the right.
Spies defended Bush as a positive force for reform overall, saying that his biggest problem was probably just his timing.
“To be fair, he wrote the book last Fall, so at the time he wrote it it was on the leading edge of where Republicans were at and where conservatives were at,” Spies said. “Now it’s not matching up exactly in some areas, it doesn’t match up exactly with one of the Senate bills, but I think that this is going to be a long process both through the Senate and the House and to have such a well respected conservative leader like Jeb Bush put forward a strong argument like he does in his book is very helpful.”
He wasn’t kidding about how ahead of the curve Bush would have been if he had published his book last year. Just look at to our second video: a typical ad from the Republican primaries by pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future.
The above spot, entitled “Too Much,” ran in 2011. What’s interesting about it is that Charles Spies founded Restore Our Future.
This isn’t meant as a knock on Spies — partisan operatives are expected to follow their candidates’ leads on plenty of issues they disagree with personally. But consider the change in attitudes that would motivate a top establishment Republican to go from producing ads like “Too Much” to founding a super PAC whose stated mission is to rebut the same types of ads in just a year.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.