"Cut off their welfare and all their stuff, and they'll go back!"
Sen. John McCain, a member of a bipartisan group pushing a comprehensive immigration reform package in Congress, on Tuesday faced angry opposition to his plan at two town-hall meetings in his home state of Arizona. In a scene reminiscent of the Tea Party protests that erupted in town halls across the country in 2009, McCain was assailed by a man identified as Kevin Smith for stealing Americans' Social Security and failing to "build the dang fence," as McCain famously promised he would do when running for re-election in 2010. "Cut off their welfare and all their stuff, and they'll go back," Smith said.
McCain, for his part, gave as good as he got. "You're not telling these people the truth," McCain said. "[Immigrants] mow our lawns, they care for our babies." Still, the back-and-forth is a reminder of the perils the GOP faces in tackling the issue. McCain's career is indicative of the tortuous path reform-minded Republicans have had to take: He nearly lost the 2008 nomination over his position on immigration, then took a hardline stance during a 2010 GOP primary battle, before recently emerging, once more, as a reformer.
Watch another video of McCain's town-hall fight here:
Other stories from this section:
- The Republican makeover falters
- Simony at the Church of Hope and Change
- How the sequester crisis (might) end
- Politics & Government
- John McCain
- Kevin Smith