As Aaron Blake reported yesterday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is airing a new attack ad in Georgia, targeting Senate hopeful Michele Nunn (D) for supporting “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants. At first blush, that may not seem especially noteworthy – Republicans throw the word around casually – but the details here are fascinating.
As proof of Nunn’s position, the NRSC referenced her stated support for the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill, co-authored by four Republican senators – Marco Rubio, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Jeff Flake – and easily passed by the Senate last year.
Or as Blake put it:
Ipso facto, Rubio’s immigration bill is now “amnesty,” at least according to this ad.This isn’t entirely novel. National parties will often use votes on which some of their members voted with the other party in a negative light, in states where it works in their favor.But if the national GOP insists on labeling the Senate immigration bill “amnesty” going forward, they’re going to make 14 Senate Republicans – and one potential GOP presidential candidate – pretty unhappy.
If the National Republican Senatorial Committee wanted to condemn a Democratic bill, that would at least make sense in the abstract. But the immigration reform package the NRSC is now attacking was written by four senators the NRSC supports. Indeed, about a third of the Senate Republican caucus threw its support behind the legislation.
As of yesterday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee believes all of them – their own allies from their own party – support “amnesty.”
McCain yesterday “warned Republican campaign operatives not to use Democrats’ support for an immigration overhaul against them in 2014.” Apparently, the NRSC doesn’t care about McCain’s advice.
What’s more, there are other angles to keep in mind on this story. Given the existence of the anti-Nunn attack ad, for example, we now also know that the National Republican Senatorial Committee sees Georgia’s U.S. Senate race as still in play (if Nunn was on track to lose, the RNSC wouldn’t waste its money).
Also, let’s not forget that Republicans would appear to have a possible opportunity with pro-reform voters in the run up to this year’s midterms. Reform supporters, most notably many Latino voters, are outraged that President Obama has delayed an announcement on executive actions from September to November, creating an opening for GOP officials.
Except, of course, Republicans have no interest in such an opening. On the contrary, they’re now going out of their way to condemn a bipartisan reform package, as if Republicans want to alienate this constituency just a little more.