By Alexander Bolton - 03/05/13 07:59 PM EST
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blasted former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Tuesday for making “a fool of himself” by zigzagging on immigration reform in the past 24 hours.
“Let’s wait for a few minutes and see how Jeb Bush changes his mind again. His opinion on immigration is not evolving, it’s devolving. He keeps going backwards. I think he’s, frankly, made a fool of himself in the last 24 hours,” Reid told reporters.
During an appearance on NBC’s “Today" show, Bush said illegal immigrants should not receive a pathway to citizenship because it would undermine the rule of law.
Bush also came out against a pathway to citizenship in his new book, Immigration Wars.
He defended himself Tuesday by explaining the book was written last year.
"So going forward — we wrote this last year — going forward, if there is a difference, you can craft that in law where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn't an incentive for people to come illegally, I'm for it," he said on MSNBC.
But Bush appeared to still hold the same position on Monday.
“Our proposal is a proposal that looks forward. And if we want to create an immigration policy that’s going to work, we can’t continue to make illegal immigration an easier path than legal immigration,” Bush said on “Today.”
“It is just a matter of common sense and a matter of the rule of law. If we’re not going to apply the law fairly and consistently, then we’re going to have another wave of illegal immigrants coming into this country,” he said.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is spearheading the GOP effort to negotiate a deal on comprehensive immigration reform, took issue with Bush’s position as stated in the book.
“I just personally, ultimately concluded that to permanently say that you’re going to have millions of people that can never apply for citizenship hasn’t really worked well for other countries that have tried it,” Rubio said.
Reid said Rubio has more of a leadership role than Bush on the issue. Rubio and Bush are both considered strong possible contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
“Frankly, on this issue I don’t think Jeb Bush is a Florida leader, Marco Rubio is,” Reid said. “Bush has been elected to nothing lately.”
Hispanics make up about 23 percent of the population of Florida, a crucial swing state in presidential elections and a battleground that could help determine the winner of the 2016 Republican primary.