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Axelrod: Immigration reform blocked by Tea Party 'reign of terror' in Congress

David Axelrod, a top campaign adviser to President Obama, said comprehensive immigration reform had not occurred during Obama's first term because the Republican senators who'd backed it during President George W. Bush's presidency were not willing to stand up and work with Obama.

"A lot of Republicans in Congress want to cooperate, they know better, but they are in the thralls of this reign of terror from the far right that has dragged this party to the right," Axelrod said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning. 

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Obama tried to work across the aisle but was rebuffed by Republican senators who were scared of the politics of immigration, Axelrod said. 

"I was in the room when he called together Republicans and Democrats who had been active in immigration reform ... and the president said I will work with you to get this done. Not one of those Republicans was willing to stand up," he said.

Axelrod argued that it was because the GOP had chosen to block everything Obama had pushed for that immigration reform hadn't happened, and that if Obama wins reelection Republicans will be less resistent to working with him because the election will be a rejection of the party going "way off to the right."

Immigration has become a hot-button issue once again as Mitt Romney, the likely GOP nominee, has sought to soften his rhetoric on the issue and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has suggested a "Republican DREAM Act" in recent days. Obama has a big lead with Hispanics in polls, and needs to maintain much of that lead if he's going to win reelection.