Just popped up at 9:06 AM eastern on the New York Times feed: “Eyeing 2016, Sen. Rubio Stresses Border Security”
A very smart move by Rubio who has been building his portfolio of national security and foreign affairs speeches and positions, anticipating the turn towards international unrest that the campaign for 2016 is already taking and which MTP’s Chuck Todd and I discussed on yesterday’s show.
The rub will be the specificity with which Rubio and others discuss the long, strong, double-sided border fence with paved road between the two fences. The country has built interstates, for goodness sakes, it can build an easily patrolled, nearly impregnable fencing system on the southern border. Though 2000 miles long, only about half is passable, and a 1,000 mile effort is nothing compared to Interstate 10 which is 2,640 miles, I-90 is 3,100 miles, I-80 is 2,899 miles, and I-40 is 2,555 miles.
Americans want a patrolled double fence along the passable areas. The GOPer who gets specific –with funding, timetables, construction design specifics such as two-sides, 12 feet high, paved road running between the sides, and who blows off the stupid “ladders and tunnels” rhetoric wins this debate. Instantly. I hope Senator Rubio leads the way.
When I pressed Representative Paul Ryan on the subject a few weeks back –there was no mention of a fence in his discussion of border security in his new book– this is what ensued:
HH: You don’t talk about [a fence in the book]. Is that responsive to the grassroots?
PR: Oh, no, I mean, I guess I should have just assumed, I assume they know a fence. I mean, it’s implied. And to me, a fence is, I voted for the fence. It hasn’t been completed. I voted to streamline the rules to clear the barriers so that the fence can be completed. So that’s part of securing the border. You know, you can put any great level of detail of policy in a book like this. When I mean secure the border and do everything you need to do to secure the border, which is what I say, that’s what I mean.
Most GOP candidates and electeds say the same thing “Borders security first” without laying out any specifics on the border fence. This rhetoric is a recipe –a sure-fire recipe– for cooking up suspicion among voters for whom border security means first and foremost a long, strong, double-sided fence with a road between the two fences. When it is possible to be very specific and the rhetoric and the legislation is not, then the disbelief becomes cynical suspicion. I haven’t read Senator Rubio’s remarks today, but I hope he and Congressman Ryan and every GOPer running for the presidency gets very specific about a timetable and the particulars for a fence, and that if immigration reform is attempted in early 2015 with the GOP in control of Congress that any bill has as Title One the provisions on the fence construction plan the completion of which will be a condition precedent for all the rest of the bill. That is border security first, and it will be rewarded by the GOP’s grassroots, independents and even security-minded Democrats.
What follows a fence in the bill could be regularization of the non-criminal illegal population and vast humanitarian aide to the newly arrived as discussed here. But the fence has to come first: The visible expression of an invisible but very firm resolve to make our borders real and secure.