Broadcasting on Philadelphia’s WPHT 1210 AM this Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh dragged Mitt Romney into the controversy surrounding Newt Gingrich’s recent comments at the GOP presidential debate on foreign policy.
Newt and the GOP debate
At the November 22nd event in Washington DC, Gingrich offered a partial-endorsement of the Dream Act, promoting amnesty for illegal immigrants who serve in the armed forces.
Though the radio host opposes the legislation, he avoided piling on the former house speaker the next day.
Limbaugh also clarified Gingrich’s support for awarding illegal immigrants permanent residency.
“Everybody’s harping on Newt from last night claiming amnesty – or whatever they’re claiming – when he specifically said he’s not talking about granting them citizenship. And if you don’t grant them citizenship they can’t vote, and without citizenship Newt’s saying it’s not amnesty.”
Rush on Mitt
Limbaugh compared Gingrich to GOP rival Mitt Romney, playing a clip of the former Massachusetts governor speaking on immigration during his last presidential campaign.
“My own view is…that those people who have come here illegally and are in this country, the 12 million or so that are here illegally, should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship,” Romney explained in a December 2007 appearance on Meet the Press.
Limbaugh emphasized that unlike Romney’s statement in 2007, Gingrich avoided mentioning full citizenship.
However, the conservative commentator made it clear he felt the position of both candidates merited criticism.
The nominal GOP frontrunner pursued Gingrich’s remarks far less aggressively than Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann during the debate Tuesday night.
Romney blandly maintained, “…in order to bring people in legally we’ve got to stop illegal immigration. That means turning off the magnets of amnesty, in-state tuition for illegal aliens, [and] employers that knowingly hire people that have come here illegally.”
His (relatively) reserved response cuts to the heart of the matter.
Gingrich’s remarks do not present the same opportunity for Romney as the implosion of his chief political rival at the September 22nd debate in Orlando.
When Rick Perry criticized opponents of in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants as heartless, the former Massachusetts governor was able to contrast himself with Perry’s record on the issue.
Romney countered his challenger by pointing to his veto of a 2004 bill granting the in-state tuition benefits the Texas governor championed, isolating Perry from the GOP base.
As Thanksgiving approached, Limbaugh correctly noted that where illegal immigration is concerned Gingrich and Romney are two peas in a pod.
The problem is the pod is only big enough for one of them.
Follow John Goodman on Twitter @ Literalville here
Part 1, “Rush Limbaugh talks Gingrich & illegal immigration on WPHT 1210” is available here
A free transcript of Rush Limbaugh’s November 23rd commentary on this issue is available here
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