Why Doesn’t Rubio Answer Bob Scheiffer’s Question? — Part II: I was wrong to suggest that Marco Rubio couldn’t say he’d learned his lesson on immigration but also admit — as he refused to do on CBS — that he’d sign his old “Gang of 8 bill” if he were president and it came to his desk. Depends on what lesson Rubio’s learned:
1) Lesson 1: Rubio could say “Yes, I’d sign it. ” The bill’s OK, he thinks. But he’s learned that enacting it is a political impossibility. “We can’t do it.” Voters simply won’t go along with an amnesty until they see that the border is secure. This answer would get Rubio off the hook for pushing a bad bill. But it also implies that the voters are wrong — specifically, wrong to be paranoid about trying to legalize before border security measures are firmly in place. Since that’s exactly what the Gang of 8 bill does, Rubio shouldn’t sign it if the voters are right.
2) Lesson 2: Rubio could say, “No I wouldn’t sign it. It’s not merely politically impossible. I’ve realized it’s a bad gamble to legalize now and hope enforcement measures actually happen later. Voters are right to be paranoid.” This is the lesson many Democrats, ethnic lobbyists and Republican donors don’t want to hear Rubio say he’s learned. It would make getting Dem support for an immigration bill much more difficult. But it’s the substantive admission many GOP primary voters would like to hear. Were they wrong to be paranoid, or right?
If Rubio wants their vote, it seems like he should answer. Otherwise they’ll (rightly) conclude he thinks they’re wrong, or he just doesn’t care — and he’s likely to try to slip a Gang-of-8-style “legalize first/enforce later” bill past them at the earliest opportunity.