Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) received a standing ovation from a full, if also initially drowsy CPAC crowd after an engaging speech and Q&A in which he attacked President Obama’s executive orders on immigration and said that he knew “the strongest argument” against the immigration bill that he helped draft was proven true.
“What I’ve learned is you can’t even have a conversation about [illegal immigrants already in the country] until people believe and know, not just believe, but it’s proven to them, that future illegal immigration is brought under control,” he told Sean Hannity during the Q-and-A. “That is the single biggest lesson I’ve learned.”
Rubio’s courting of the CPAC crowd contrasts markedly with Jeb Bush’s posture on immigration at the Club for Growth conference in Palm Beach, Fla., despite the similarities between their diagnoses of the immigration problem.
“If I go beyond the consideration of running, I’m not backing down from something that is a core belief,” Bush told the Club for Growth crowd Thursday after insisting on addressing the issue. “Are we supposed to just cower because at the moment people are all upset about something? No way, no how.”
Rubio, by contrast, said that “the strongest argument” against the Gang of Eight amnesty bill he once co-sponsored — the complaint that the legal status was provided before the border was secured — was “proven to be true” by President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
“The president not once but now twice has basically said by executive order, ‘I won’t enforce the law,’” he said.
Rubio also protested media coverage of the fight to use the Department of Homeland Security funding bill to block implementation of Obama’s executive orders on immigration.
“That’s the hypocrisy of this, right?” he said. “So, when we’re in the minority and we filibuster Obamacare and we want to repeal it or at least get a vote on it, we’re shutting down a government. When they’re in the minority and they’re filibustering getting rid of this executive order, we’re shutting down the government, too.”
Rubio suggested that Republicans need to continue trying to block the orders, despite the risk of political damage due to that coverage.
“If you lose that constitutional check and balance on power, you lose the essence of what makes our nation different from others,” he said. “It’s not a policy debate, this is a constitutional debate.”