Gingrich sounds almost reasonable on Immigration

Via the New York Times:

Mr. Gingrich responded by pressing his case that the country — and the Republican Party — would not be served by forcing the exile of immigrants who had been in the country for years, paying taxes and staying out of legal trouble.

“I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century,” Mr. Gingrich said during the debate. “And I’m prepared to take the heat for saying let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship, but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.”

That came perilously close — without being quite as Texas-blunt as Mr. Perry was — to suggesting that people who disagree with him on the issue are not humane.

It’s an interesting choice for Newt to come out so strongly in favor of basic humanity just as he’s achieving the coveted title of frontrunner. GOP scapegoating of the undocumented has been a hallmark of this primary season with the candidates making brazen overture to their base about who will be the biggest enforcer of deportations. Will Newt’s appeal hold any sway with GOP voters? Are there any moderates left to even care?

Even more interesting to me is that Newt Gingrich comes off as one of the more moderate candidates. As someone who remembers Gingrich’s tenure as Speaker of the House, the idea that Newt is potentially the most reasonable candidate is unsettling.

Will Newt’s remarks have any lasting impact? Best indicator is probably whether or not we’re still talking about them after the holiday weekend.

Melissa Ryan is a political consultant. She’s spent a decade leading digital campaigns for nonprofits and political races, including EMILY’s List, Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, the New Organizing Institute, and Senator Russ Feingold’s campaign. Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @MelissaRyan.

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