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Tancredo Questions McCain

By Jonathan Weisman
He may be the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, but John McCain has yet to heal all the wounds on his right flank.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), a failed presidential rival of McCain's and an anti-illegal immigration gadfly, launched into the senator from Arizona for meeting in secret with Latino leaders last week in Chicago. One participant in the meeting emerged to criticize McCain for taking a tougher stand on illegal immigration on the campaign trail than the line he allegedly used behind closed doors. Now, Tancredo is taking up the cudgel in an open letter to his party's presumptive nominee.

"Recently in Chicago, you had a closed door meeting with a group of Hispanic leaders," he wrote. "Strangely, the closed door meeting was not on your official events calendar, no press was invited and no press release appears to have been issued. Yet, according to several news reports, you promised the group that you plan to pursue 'comprehensive immigration reform.' Senator, given your past sponsorship of amnesty legislation, such statements raise troubling questions. Are you planning to break a promise you made in February to postpone all other immigration reform legislation until we have first secured our borders?"

Ahead of a scheduled McCain appearance in July before the National Council of La Raza, Tancredo warned, "I challenge you to deliver a message to that assembly which does not pander to their amnesty agenda. You should speak to the La Raza convention and to all Hispanic audiences about America's need for secure borders as a priority above all other immigration reforms. Moreover, I hope you take that opportunity to make it clear that it is in the long term interest of Mexico and other Latin American nations to halt the massive out-migration of their citizens."

McCain has promised Republican lawmakers and activists that he will set aside his push to grant illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, at least until he can certify that the U.S. borders have been closed to illegal immigration. At the same time, he has tried to win back support from Hispanic voters who have fled the GOP since the party took up the immigration issue fervently in 2005.

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 24, 2008; 2:14 PM ET
Categories:  John McCain  
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