By Alexander Bolton - 01/29/13 07:14 PM EST
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is embarking on a conservative-media blitz to sell immigration reform to the GOP base — an effort that could make or break future legislation.
He warned President Obama on Tuesday not to get into a bidding war with Republicans over granting amnesty for illegal immigrants during an interview with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, an outspoken critic of past efforts to legalize illegal immigrants.
“I think right now the president has a decision to make. If today becomes the beginning of a bidding war where he tries to be even more liberal than members of his own party in the Senate, then we, I think, we clearly know what his intentions are, and I don’t think that’s going to be a good development,” he said.
Rubio is scheduled to interview with other conservative hosts later today, including Sean Hannity, of Fox News Channel, Mark Levin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
After Limbaugh expressed skepticism that Obama really wants to solve the immigration issue, Rubio warned the president not to turn immigration reform into a political football.
Rubio tried to calm fears among conservatives by raising several points. He promised he would not support any legislation that granted an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, for instance, if it did not first secure the border and staunch the flow of future illegal migration.
He also raised the point that House Republicans would have a chance to weigh in, serving as a safeguard against legislation tilting too far to the left.
Rubio said he is meeting with opinion leaders to educate conservatives and other voters about the framework of principles he has endorsed along with seven Republican colleagues.
“What I want is I want people to understand what the principles are for, and what they’re not for,” he said. “One of the tasks that you do in your role here on the radio with the many listeners you have is to inform people about what’s really happening, and I want people to clearly understand what the principles are [and] what they are not.”