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GOP leadership vs. rising stars?

On CBS’s Face the Nation gabfest this morning, Major Garrett (substituting for Bob Schieffer) tried manfully to get House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to open up about the House leadership’s announced immigration reform principles (video below). Cantor wouldn’t sing, apart from reciting support for the Democratic line on “DREAMers.” (Insert groan here.)

Why so shy? I find that peculiar. I don’t think the explanation is stupidity. I don’t think the explanation is cupidity. I can’t explain it.

Over at NRO, my daughter Eliana reports on the division between House GOP leadership and the rising stars among the rank and file. This is a subject of intense interest to us and I’m taking the liberty of quoting Eliana at length:

One tacit premise of the Republican House leadership’s push for immigration reform is that it’s good politics. The four members of the GOP conference stepping on to a larger stage this year, as candidates for the U.S. Senate, will probably disagree, and the 2014 campaign season may pit House leaders, chief among them Speaker John Boehner, who are campaigning for reform, against some of the party’s rising stars who are likely to crisscross their states inveighing against it.

Two of the GOP’s Senate candidates, West Virginia congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and Arkansas congressman Tom Cotton, are considered up-and-comers in the party. They are challenging incumbent Democrats but are considered likely to win their races. In the House last summer, Cotton led the conservative opposition to the Gang of Eight bill; one Republican congressman tells me that emails are “flying around lampooning the legalization proposal” being floated by House leadership, and “these aren’t guys like Steve King but guys like (Raul) Labrador and (Tom) Cotton and (Mick) Mulvaney.” Capito, for her part, states on her website that she supports a border fence, including a virtual fence “that uses cameras, sensors, and motion detectors”; opposes amnesty; and says it’s her mission to “ensure that millions of jobs are not taken from hardworking Americans by illegal immigrants.”

Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy and Montana’s Steve Daines are also likely to oppose the sort of piecemeal immigration reform that is likely to come through the House. Asked for his views on the current immigration debate, a Cassidy spokesman referred me to the congressman’s statement explaining his opposition to the Gang of Eight bill. Daines has stated that he will oppose “any proposal that contains amnesty for illegal immigrants currently in our country.”

How an intra-party debate on immigration will impact the 2014 landscape is an open question. One House Republican familiar with the thinking of the candidates calls the legalization provisions contained in the principles released by House leadership “ludicrous and insulting” and tells me that, ahead of the 2014 midterms, the candidates themselves worry that “the whole effort will do nothing but provoke a scorched-earth, bloody civil war in the GOP, the only victor of which will be the Democratic party.” Another House Republican tells me, via text message, that the “general feeling” is that “getting into immigration will hurt Senate takeover chances.” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring, on the other hand, doesn’t see the issue having much of an impact. “Polling shows (immigration) is not an issue with huge resonance and each candidate will handle in the appropriate way for their constituents,” he says.

Whole thing here. Ross Douthat has more that is of interest in his Times column “The GOP’s immigration delusion.”

One more thing: Speaker Boehner’s office phone number is 202-225-6205. The number for the U.S. Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121. The good folks who work the switchboard will put you right through to your representative’s office.

Via Daniel Halper/Weekly Standard.

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