In retrospect however, Romney must have known something that we didn't know. I suspect that this move will help him in the end, more than showing up Paul would have.
Keep in mind, I am not a McCain basher, in many if not most areas I respect and admire the man. He is a national hero. I'm not even inclined to completely hate his immigration plan, as long as he crafted it with same iron-clad enforcement guarantees. I would submit, however, that you should not say this about your bill:
We can and must complete this legislation sooner rather than later. We all know that this issue can get caught up in extracurricular politics unless we move forward as quickly as possible.Those people that he refers to that get caught up in "extracurricular politics" are your primary voters that you will need to win the nomination. And, indeed, more time would be appropriate for a 1000 page bill that hasn't even been finished yet. This would be a good opportunity to educate the people on why this is a good bill, and reassure the Republican base that the enforcement provisions are solid. You could even OWN that portion of the bill and trumpet it. Right now it appears that McCain wants this thing passed before anyone can read it, or before any Senator has to face their constituents over Memorial Day weekend. Even if that is not the case, it certainly LOOKS that way.
Enter Romney and Fred Thompson:
“I strongly oppose today's bill going through the Senate. It is the wrong approach. Any legislation that allows illegal immigrants to stay in the country indefinitely, as the new 'Z-Visa' does, is a form of amnesty. That is unfair to the millions of people who have applied to legally immigrate to the U.S.
“Today's Senate agreement falls short of the actions needed to both solve our country's illegal immigration problem and also strengthen our legal immigration system. Border security and a reliable employment verification system must be our first priority.”
“With this bill, the American people are going to think they are being sold the same bill of goods as before on border security. We should scrap this bill and the whole debate until we can convince the American people that we have secured the borders or at least have made great headway.”
Romney has even cut a new ad:
In under one minute, Romney lays out a sensible enforcement policy that is easily implemented and enforced, coming in well under 1000 pages. How can McCain combat that with his current position? He probably couldn't even lift the unfinished bill over his head in that amount of time.
The support that Romney and Thompson could generate is far beyond what sparring with Ron Paul could do for them.
Things could, however, get much worse. It is very possible that the compromise could crumble. Should that happen, McCain would reap all of the blame and get no benefit for the bill passing. That would be disastrous and could possibly end his campaign. The last person you want in your corner when a "bipartisan compromise" goes bad in the arena of public opinion is Teddy Kennedy. Ask President Bush how long it took to remove the "No Child Left Behind" dagger from between his shoulder blades. Hint, it's still there.
The bottom line is that if McCain really believes in this compromise, he had better start selling it, day in and day out. Hurrying it through in secrecy is adding insult to injury. Otherwise it is a good thing that the trip back to Arizona faces toward the sunset. It will be highly convenient.