Despite the flurry of negative press coverage suggesting that immigration reform is in jeopardy, the Rubio team remains optimistic that bipartisan legislation can pass.
While Senate Republicans who aren’t part of the immigration Senate gang have been fairly quiet on the topic of immigration, Rubio’s team stresses that the legislation — which won’t be released until March — is not dead. “Private conservations have been very positive,” says Rubio press secretary Alex Conant of other Republican senators. “People are understandably waiting to see the legislation before they commit one way or the other.” But the White House immigration plan that was leaked this weekend didn’t help. “To the extent we’re trying to build a coalition of conservatives who will support this plan, conservatives are going to be less likely to want to support it if they think President Obama’s just going to pull the rug out from underneath us on it,” says Conant.
Today President Obama called Rubio, who is in the Middle East, to talk immigration. “Senator Rubio appreciated receiving President Obama’s phone call to discuss immigration reform late tonight in Jerusalem,” said Rubio’s office in a statement. “The senator told the president that he feels good about the ongoing negotiations in the Senate, and is hopeful the final product is something that can pass the Senate with strong bipartisan support.”
Obama also talked to Rubio’s fellow immigration-gang members Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and plans to place a call to Senator Jeff Flake.