Fred Thompson in South Carolina. Photo: ready_to_vote
When the Yonder last visited with the presidential candidates, Obama was listening, Thompson was testing waters (in a generally conservative way), Republicans were railing about immigrants and Edwards was talking in very specific ways about the rural economy.
Okay, the Yonder is looking again and”¦nothing’s changed.
In mid-week, Republican front-runners Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney were double-daring each other over who would be the roughest on illegal immigrants. (With Fred Thompson slyly joining the fray.) The Boston Globe described the Republicans as two guys trying to “out-tough” each other on who would do the most to stem the flow of immigrants. Giuliani pledged to “end illegal immigration,” describing a “technological fence” he would string along the southern border to cork the movement of people from Mexico.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney fired back that Giuliani, as mayor of New York, had allowed that city to be a “sanctuary” for illegals. Giuliani had continued his predecessors’ policy of prohibiting local law enforcement authorities from cooperating with federal officials on the enforcement of immigration laws. Several cities have these policies, including Austin, Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago. Romney asked Giuliani to explain or disavow these city sanctuary policies.”
Meanwhile, former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, who is still not an official candidate, posted a blog item on his website Monday saying he, too, is against these “sanctuary cities.” Among other problems, according to Thompson, such policies offer protection to gang members and rapists. Thompson wrote:
“There were also more than 220,000 illegals in state and local prisons and jails. Now, I am not suggesting that all illegal aliens are violent criminals. They are not. Most are peaceful folks just trying to get by like the rest of us. But we would be far better off if we checked on people as they come into the country rather than find out who the bad ones are after they victimize people here.”
(For those with time to roam around the Thompson site, you can find the former senator’s defense of federalism on the same page as his declaration that cities should be required to enforce federal immigration law.)
(Another aside: Democrat Bill Richardson told a group in Des Moines that the immigration debate had turned “ugly.” He said one questioner asked if he wasn’t “pretty tall to be a Mexican”¦”My blood boils when I get these questions”¦Deport them. Get them out of here….What we have seen is some ugly threads.”)
Not all Republicans were flogging the immigration issue. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (second place “winner” of the Ames straw poll over the weekend) piped up about farm policy. When asked by the Iowa Independent, Huckabee said he wanted to stabilize the domestic farm economy. He would back immediate country of origin labeling (COOL). (“I want to know where this food comes from,” said Huckabee. “I have a lot more confidence in catfish farmers in Arkansas than I do in the Vietnamese who are selling me something that they’re saying is catfish when it isn’t.”) And he supports increased attention to domestic production of fruits and vegetables.
Edwards, meanwhile, was on a two-day tour of Iowa talking about aspects of the rural economy.
The one-term North Carolina senator said he would oppose “anti-competitive mergers” in the food industry, limit farm subsidy payments to $250,000 per person and seek a national ban on packer ownership of livestock.
“One of the greatest dangers we face in this country today is that of kids growing up in small towns, leaving and never coming back,” Edwards said. “This has been a very serious issue as I’ve seen it here in Iowa. What we want to do is create opportunities for these young people, opportunities not just in big cities but in smaller towns and rural communities.”