Divide over citizenship is bad news for immigration reform — and Rubio

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Will Democrats agree to reform without a path to citizenship? With record deportations and border security measures, Democrats say they have more than compromised already. But no matter how hard Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Karl Rove and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) push, reform with citizenship is just bad politics for too many Republicans in the House.

And they have been encouraged by too many conservatives to stay the course, like the piece titled "Kill the Bill," published by National Review this week in which Bill Kristol and Rich Lowry argue it would be far better to wait until 2015 to pass a stronger bill from a position of strength than to be backed into crafting something to answer the Senate bill this year.

It is hard to imagine pro-reform Republicans pushing citizenship to the exclusion of everything else when they want the party to pass some reform no matter what. You won't see lead Senate sponsor Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) pushing House conservatives to include citizenship, that is for  sure. 

In my column this week, I explained why memories could be too long for Rubio to move past his leadership on immigration reform in 2016, especially if nothing ever becomes law. A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Rubio's approval slipping in Iowa, where he had 16 percent in February but now has 11 percent as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) jumped from 10 percent up to 18 percent in the same time period. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has 16 percent support in the same poll, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) also topping Rubio in Iowa with 14 percent approval. 

Rubio's bill includes citizenship, a nonstarter in the House. If House Republicans pass reform without a path to citizenship, will it help Republicans win over Hispanic voters or worsen the demographic liability the party already has now?

WILL DEMOCRATS WALK AWAY FROM PARTIAL REFORM? CAN THEY? AskAB returns Tuesday July 16. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.