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McCain sort of apologizes to conservatives

Following Mitt Romney's withdrawal speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain had this to say about the topic that has gotten him into such hot water with conservative activists and voters: On the issue of illegal immigration, a position which provoked the outspoken opposition of many conservatives, I stood my ...

Following Mitt Romney's withdrawal speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain had this to say about the topic that has gotten him into such hot water with conservative activists and voters:

On the issue of illegal immigration, a position which provoked the outspoken opposition of many conservatives, I stood my ground aware that my position would imperil my campaign. I respect your opposition for I know that the vast majority of critics to the bill based their opposition in a principled defense of the rule of law. And while I and other Republican supporters of the bill were genuine in our intention to restore control of our borders, we failed, for various and understandable reasons, to convince Americans that we were. I accept that, and have pledged that it would be among my highest priorities to secure our borders first, and only after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure, would we address other aspects of the problem in a way that defends the rule of law and does not encourage another wave of illegal immigration. [UPDATE: Watch McCain getting booed here.]

That's pretty much what he's been saying on the campaign trail thus far, and it's been a good enough fudge to net him the nomination. Will conservatives be satisfied with this answer? Probably not, but it seems McCain may have smoothed over some rough patches today. David Freddoso of the National Review writes, "I think the proper reaction to McCain's victory is: Don't Panic. The world has not been destroyed just yet." Mission accomplished?

UPDATE: Ramesh Ponnuru chimes in— 

I'd prefer it if McCain took one more small step. It isn't enough that the border be secure; the illegal population has to start shrinking. (A lot of illegal immigrants came here legally and overstayed their visas, so securing the borders doesn't solve the problem.)

Personally, I think it's wrong to look at illegal immigration as a law-enforcement problem rather than a black-market problem. You can build all the walls you want, but you won't dry up illegal immigration until you drastically raise the number of legal immigrants you let in. But that is for another post and another day.

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