Charles Krauthammer(Credit: Screen shot, POLITICO)
The first week of April is, apparently, the week when the political press breathlessly talks about whether former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will run for the presidency, or whether he even should. Yet while many members of the so-called GOP establishment are champing at the bit to enlist yet another Bush in a quest to win the White House, BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith and others have pointed out that the relatively moderate Bush, who has distinguished himself by supporting comprehensive immigration reform, would likely be strongly rejected by a GOP base that considers any kind of path to citizenship a form of amnesty.
And now Charles Krauthammer, one of the right’s most influential pundits and a rare conservative media figure who is celebrated by both the Tea Party and the country club, is adding his two cents to the Jeb Bush debate. Like Smith, he thinks Bush’s stance on immigration basically renders his candidacy a non-starter.
Referring to earlier comments of Bush’s, in which the son of one president and the brother of another granted that illegal immigration was, yes, illegal but insisted that it was often done as “an act of love,” Krauthammer said on Fox News that Bush’s defense of the undocumented was yet another example of why he wouldn’t fare so well with the Tea Party set.
“If [Bush] was feeling any optimism before that interview, I think it’s gone away after the interview,” Krauthammer said.
“I mean, that statement he made about illegal immigrants being an act of love [sic] is kind of bizarre,” he continued. “I grant him the complete sincerity and honesty of his view; he’s always had that kind of approach. But that’s leading with your chin.”
Krauthammer went on to argue that those who want to immigrate to the U.S. but haven’t done so illegally love their families, too, and that Bush’s position, while honestly held, was mistaken. ”I believe in immigration,” Krauthammer said, “but I believe that we set the parameters and criteria for who gets in.
“If we’re ever going to have a solution to the immigration problem,” Krauthammer continued, “it will only happen when a Republican stands up and says, ‘Yes, we will legalize, but we’re not going to get swindled like Reagan in ’86 with a promise of closing the borders.’ You close the border, you prevent the compassionate parents who want to better the lives of their children but who want to jump the fence, and then you legalize the 11 million who are here.”
Ultimately, though, Krauthammer thinks Bush is still going to run in 2016. He just doesn’t expect it to be as easy as Bush may think. “I think he will,” Krauthammer said, “but I don’t think he’s going to be as well received as he hopes.”