Rubio: Obama Has ’Poisoned the Well’ on Immigration

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By Margaret Carlson

He wasn't named Mitt Romney's running mate, but that hasn't slowed down Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. He’s turned into one of Romney’s leading surrogates -- sitting for interviews, holding rallies and recording advertisements.

Rubio can, however, occasionally break from the Romney campaign, whether on China or in his view of the campaign itself. Visiting with reporters and editors at Bloomberg View in New York, Rubio put Obama’s chances of re-election at 50/50 or better -- at a time when most in the Romney camp say their guy is surging.

Rubio projects a more bipartisan bent than is currently found in Washington. He said he was happy to learn from Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, when he first arrived. He and a few Democratic senators, including Chris Coons of Delaware and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, came together to introduce the Agree Act, which gathers all the components of jobs plans that the two parties had previously agreed on (hence the name -- get it?). It has gone nowhere.

Rubio said he also opened the door to working on immigration reform with Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois -- though Rubio never produced legislation. As the son of Cuban emigres, he said, Rubio takes the issue personally. He knows people who ended up in the U.S. illegally, he said, because some lawyer ran off with their money without extending their visas. He knows people whose kids, brought here illegally, want to come out of hiding.

"These are real people," he said. "I live near them, know their stories, have seen their tears.” He hates to see the issue “covered as a sport.”

Yet Rubio does not applaud President Barack Obama’s executive order to allow immigrant children who go to school or join the military to stay here legally. To Rubio, Obama has "poisoned the well” for real immigration reform. That sounds a lot like letting the perfect be the enemy of the good -- which doesn’t seem like governing.

(Margaret Carlson is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow her on Twitter.)

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-0- Oct/16/2012 20:23 GMT