Presidential races

Top GOP donors: Be like Bush on immigration

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Top Republican donors and party strategists are urging prospective 2016 GOP candidates to follow former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s lead on immigration reform. 

Spencer Zwick, the finance chairman for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential run, was among the GOP heavyhitters on a conference call Tuesday who praised Bush for taking a stand on the issue. 

“Gov. Bush has decided to lead on this issue,” said Zwick. “It’s very early in the campaign process. We have not yet heard from every potential or likely presidential candidate [but…] I give Gov. Bush a lot of credit.”

{mosads}The donors didn’t go into a specific critique or endorsement of Bush’s immigration policies, but their message was clear: the 2016 presidential candidates must strike a more moderate tone on the issue and avoid controversial “fringe” remarks to appease to the far right during a primary if they want to win the White House.

Zwick, who has yet to signed onto any prospective Republican candidate, said that if another GOP candidate “wants to be taken seriously, they need to be in a similar place.”

Bush is largely seen has having more moderate immigration policies, which puts him at odds with the more conservative GOP factions. 

Earlier Tuesday, Bush criticized President Obama for overstepping his presidential authority on immigration. He has previously argued that reforming the nation’s immigration system would help the nation’s economy.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a temporary injunction against Obama’s executive orders on immigration. Hanen sided with officials from 26 states that argued they would suffer “irreparable harm” from Obama’s policy aimed at shielding 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation.

While the donors criticized Obama’s policies, they urged him to work with the Republican controlled Congress.

Andrew Puzder, a former Romney economic adviser and CEO of CKE Restaurants, said that the Republican Party must be sympathetic to undocumented immigrants.

“People vote with their hearts… Our values indicate we should be the party of immigration reform,” Puzder said. “[Many undocumented immigrants] live in fear of being deported, losing what they’ve built and being separated from their families.”

Puzder said that Obama’s “golf trips can stop” and that he needs to act to move reform through Congress. 

“He needs to stay home and work with” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Puzder said.

Grover Norquist, president of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, chided Democrats for politicking the issue and making it more difficult for bipartisan reform.

“This idea that somehow Democrats would do it? We tested that for two years — they chose to do nothing,” said Norquist, alluding to the recent Democratic super majority during Obama’s first term.

Michael Fernandez, founder of MBF Healthcare Partners and a GOP donor, said that Republicans “need to welcome these individuals” and also praised Bush for his policy on the issue. 

“These individuals are risk takers. They did not come here for anything else other than to better their lives,” Fernandez said. “We need them in order to improve our economy.”

Tags Immigration Jeb Bush Mitt Romney
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