According to the Associated Press, Republican Tom Tancredo announced in a press conference December 21 that he is withdrawing from the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Tancredo cited as a reason his concern that his candidacy might split the vote to the point that a candidate who isn’t sufficiently hard on immigration issues might win the nomination.
“I fear remaining in this race, one which I cannot win, would contribute to the nomination of one of these candidates,” Tancredo stated. In the same speech, he also endorsed candidate Mitt Romney, whom Tancredo feels is the strongest candidate on immigration.
Tancredo is the hero of those who take a hard-line stance on immigration. He’s a five-term Congressman from Colorado, who founded the National Immigration Reform Caucus (Wikipedia). Tancredo advocates deporting every illegal immigrant in the U.S., along with halting all immigration (legal or illegal) and securing the U.S.-Mexico border with a fence. Despite his extreme positions on immigration, he claims that his beliefs represent those of the majority of Americans.
Romney, according to his campaign website, believes in decreasing illegal immigration, but also wants to increase legal immigration. According to a 2006 AP article, he does not support amnesty for illegal immigrants, which is a sticking point for many voters, but he does favor a path to citizenship rather than deportation for those who are already here.
Romney’s stance is probably closest to the majority of Americans, but I don’t think it will be enough for the hard-liners who have been following Tancredo. People who insist that there should be no immigration (at least from Latin America), that illegal immigrants should be rounded up and deported, and that immigration from Latin American countries will turn the U.S. into a third world country are not likely to agree with a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. They will probably see that idea as just another form of amnesty.
But who else would they vote for? For the anti-immigration crowd, Romney may be the lesser of several evils. Will their vote make a difference in the nomination? According to a December 14-16 Gallup poll, Romney was in a third-place tie with John McCain and Fred Thompson, with 14% of the vote. Tancredo was way down at the bottom with 1%, so adding the Tancredo vote to Romney’s numbers would only give him a slight edge over McCain and Thompson, and leave him far behind Mike Huckabee (16%) and Rudy Giuliani (27%). Other polls have different numbers, of course, but I still doubt that Tancredo’s supporters could boot Romney into first or second place at this point.
One of Tancredo’s motives in running for President, however, was to force candidates to acknowledge and take a stance on immigration issues, and it is definitely one of the issues at the forefront of the campaign. In that, at least, Tancredo may have had a successful candidacy.
Michael J. Crumb, Associated Press, “Tancredo drops WH bid, endorses Romney”, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071220/ap_on_el_pr/tancredo;_ylt=AvMjkZQO.evVzdF_pWsnF9qs0NUE
Wikipedia, “Tom Tancredo”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Tancredo
Mitt Romney Campaign, “Getting Immigration Right”, http://www.mittromney.com/Issue-Watch/Immigration
Andrew Miga, Associated Press, “Romney declines to take stand on Senate immigration bill”, http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/03/29/romney_declines_to_take_stand_on_senate_immigration_bill/
Lydia Saad, Gallup, “Giuliani leads GOP race; Huckabee, others tied for second”, http://www.gallup.com/poll/103348/Giuliani-Leads-GOP-Race-Huckabee-Others-Tie-Second.aspx