Martin Bashir | February 20, 2013
>>> insults that you may have.
>> why didn't the army go down there and stop 'em? because the only thing that stops them, i'm afraid to say and it's too damn bad, but is a gun.
>> cut off their welfare and all their stuff and they'll go back. you said build a dang fence. where's the fence?
>> you've had enough time, pal. you've had enough time. you've had enough time.
>> the politics of comprehensive immigration reform have just come crashing down upon senator john mccain . at a town hall meeting , he was confronted not by republicans willing to reach out after failing so badly in november, but by a party of activists who remain unreconciled to reason. so what does this mean for so-called moderates like senators mccain and marco rubio , who hope to forge a bipartisan compromise on immigration? let's ask representative tony cardenas , democrat of california and victoria . congressman, as an elected official, you've probably had your fair share of spirited town hall meetings , so let's listen to what snooenator mccain had to say.
>> no, it's fun. it's what you expect. it's what i've always expected in these town hall meetings . that's why you have them. give and take. i enjoy it. it's important for people to have that give and take.
>> have you been getting that kind of blow-back on this new immigration reform package?
>> oh, sure. there are people that are unhappy. most of the people in here are happy. most of the people in here agree with me.
>> congressman, if that's the way voters express their agreement, then i'd hate to be around when they register their opposition.
>> yeah, i think it's important for people to understand that this is a great country where people have the right to express their opinion. there you have some community members talking to one of the most powerful u.s. senators in the country. one of the most powerful people in the world. and they have the opportunity to speak their mind and to say what they think.
>> and they like to say thaerkd go down to the border with guns and send the army.
>> yes, some people like to say that. thank god that's not what we're doing and i pray that we never do that because that's not the solution. the reality is that we need to make sure that we have comprehensive immigration reform . we have 11 million people here undocumented. the vast majority of them are contributing positively to our society and to our economy. most of them come here to work really, really hard and to actually provide for their family.
>> victoria , the town hall revolt on immigration happened far away from the beltway but it's found to have an effect in washington. all week long mark yo ruco rubio and others have been whining about the president interfering with legislation so the president calls them on the phone to patch things up, he plays the adult as usual. but republicans who support reform, they may be risking their careers.
>> it's a rocky road , martin, but it's a road that elected officials are going to have to trek if they're interested in longevity. let's take marco rubio and florida , for example. let's set aside the issue that he has presidential aspirations. if he wants to remain senator in florida , he has to cater to the latino population that's democratic and independent, not just cuban. in 2012 , 60% of latinos voted for barack obama in florida . in arizona, i don't know if senator mccain is going to run again in 2016 , but he has his eye on the larger state, not just those town hall people who made the news, but the fact that in arizona, people are becoming more moderate. we saw that with the voting out of russell pierce, the architect of sb- 1070 . we see a booming latino electorate, a growth of over 70% in over a decade and a latino senate prospect doing very well. so we have to zoom the lens out and look at the larger context that, yes, you are going to have your nay sayers like we did in this town hall , but overwhelmingly the country is moving toward a more moderate stance on immigration.
>> congressman, as i watch that footage with john mccain , it made me cast my mind back to 2008 and some similarly aggressive meetings and sarah palin . do you not think that in a way john mccain has created the kind of circumstances that have now come back to haunt him in that town hall ?
>> well --
>> i mean he was responsible for sarah palin and encouraging these individual tea party members. guess what's happened now? this is what they say about the issue of immigration.
>> yeah. well, see, that's the problem when politicians actually move to a particular place that really isn't them. i think that senator mccain , when you look at his record overall, has been a very moderate u.s. senator . but when you have people like him that move over to the sarah palins or what have you, you find that they ending up getting bit by the people on the fringe and then what happens is when they move back to who they really are, they tend to actually be reasonable, they tending to do good legislation and tend to be part of a community of other electorates who are trying to do the right thing. so when you get right down to it, you're absolutely right. some people when they actually cater to the fringes of their party or to the fringes of certain factions, what happens, they ending up getting bit because they tend to be very angry, people who don't want to listen to all sides and they just want one thing to happen and they have it in their head and it's so hard to convince them otherwise.
>> victoria , what that town hall makes obvious is that washington republicans are sitting on the political equivalent of the san andreas fault line . if they choose to support real reform, are they taking their own political lives and the future potential survival of their party in their own hands?
>> it's very difficult because we have this split between nationally where you see the country going and what's happening and your home districts and home states. so at the state level, we do see a bit more safety quite literally in numbers because of the diversity of the electorate, but where we're really going to see the roadblocks is in the house. in those individual districts --
>> those gerrymandered districts.
>> where we have people packed in with very similar attitudes, very conservative attitudes and that's going to be the roadblock that we're seeing going into immigration reform , especially coming out of the summer recess. once these representatives have had a chance to go back, and this is just the first of many town halls that we're seeing this with anti-immigrant venom.
>> yes. final question very briefly, congressman, do you think the president's desire to realize comprehensive reform this spring is possible in the light of what we just saw with john mccain ?
>> i think it's possible and it's necessary. if people are allowed to marinate on this issue, it's going to get away from us. i think that the time is now. i think that the message has been sent to republicans and democrats. politicians specifically know that they need to remember that the future in this country is a mix of voters and the latino vote, the immigrant vote is getting stronger and their opinion is mattering at the polls. so i think the time is now. i think that the president keeps saying he's ready. you have people like marco rubio who are in the room discussing it, john mccain , democrats are ready, so hopefully we'll get it done in the next few months and then move on to other issues that we need to tackle as well.
>> congressman, victoria , thank you for