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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Immigration Debate

Chris Christie won't run but doesn't mind being asked


Chris Christie, the wildly popular northeastern governor -- at least in GOP circles -- spoke in soaring terms on the subject of American exceptionalism Tuesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation in Simi Valley.

The theme of the official speech was American exceptionalism -- delivered to an audience that included Nancy Reagan, former California Gov. Pete Wilson and conservative activist Andrew Breitbart.

But the theme of the Q&A that followed was about whether the New Jersey governor would jump into the 2012 Republican presidential race.

(Ciick here and here for a two-part video; and here for the full text, courtesy of The Weekly Standard.)

But first, he was asked about a subject that caused some trouble for a declared candidate, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, in the last GOP debate down in Florida. Defending his decision with the Texas Legislature to grant discounted in-state tuition rates to children of illegal aliens, Perry had said:

"If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart."

Christie took exception to that:

As for the education expense, I've dealt with this problem in New Jersey, and I need to be crystal clear about it. I want every child to be educated, but I do not believe that, for the people who came here illegally, that we should be subsidizing, with taxpayer money, through in-state tuition, their education.

Let me be very clear, from my perspective, that is not a heartless position. That is a common-sense position.

The next questioner addressed the presidential campaign: "Gov. Christie, you're known as a straight-shooter, not one given to playing games. Can you tell us what's going on here? Are you reconsidering or are you standing firm?"

"Listen," said Christie, "I have to tell you the truth -- you folks are an incredible disappointment as an audience." That got big laughs. "The fact that it took to the second question shows you people are off your game. That is not American exceptionalism."

That got bigger laughs.

But then the governor referred his listeners to, which today posted a video compilation of Christie's denials that he's running.

Check it out below:

But that didn't retire the subject.

A few minutes later, after Christie told a story about his entitlement curbs earning him boos from some firefighters, ending with, "Real leaders, they don't read polls; they change polls" -- it came up again.

A former New Jersey resident, now in California, praised the governor, said he made her proud and then told him, "My Italian mother, she told me to tell you, you gotta run for president."

After a big burst of cheers and applause, Christie said, "Well, I'm going to press my luck here and respond to that. If I make you proud to be a New Jerseyan and proud to be an American, and your Italian mother wants me to run for president, what the hell are you doing in California? Get back to New Jersey.

"Let's go. Come home, for God's sake. What are you doing out here? I got a plane, you can come right back now if you want. Yeah, come on, meet me by the side over there, we'll take you home ... Getting more taxpayers, one at a time."

But it wasn't over yet.

The very next questioner, an older woman in the balcony, made an earnest plea for him to get into the race.

"Go home and really think about it," she said at the end. "Do it for my daughter, do it for our grandchildren, do it for our sons. Please, sir, don't ... we need you. Your country needs you."

The crowd roared and rose to its feet, while Christie stood, with a stricken and emotional look on his face. But, stricken or not, he had an answer, and here it is:

"This is all I'll say about this tonight, is that I hear exactly what you're saying, and I feel the passion with which you say it. It touches me. I can tell you, I'm just a kid from New Jersey who feels like I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have the opportunity that I have to be the governor of my state.

"So, people say to me all the time now, when folks like you say those kinds of things, for as many months as it's been said, 'Governor, why don't they just leave you alone? You've already given your answer. Isn't it a burden?'

"What I say to you tonight and say to everybody else who was nice enough to applaud what she said,  is that it isn't a burden.

"The fact of the matter is, anybody who has an ego large enough to say, 'Oh, please, please, please, stop asking me to be the leader of the free world, it's such a burden. If you could please just stop.' What kind of crazy egomaniac would you have to be to say, 'Oh, please stop, stop.'

"It's extraordinarily flattering. But by the same token, that heartfelt message you gave me is also not a reason for me to do it. The reason has to reside inside me.

"And so, that's what I've said all along. I know, without ever having met President Reagan, that he must have felt deeply in his heart that he was called to that moment, to lead our country.

"And so, my answer to you is this, I thank you for what you're saying, and I take it in, and I'm listening to every word of it and feeling it, too. Please don't ever think for a second that I feel like I'm important enough in this world that somehow what you're saying is a problem for me. It's a great, great honor. I'm extraordinarily flattered, and I really appreciate you being willing to stand up and say it with the passion that you did.

"That's why this country is a great place, because of folks like you. So, thank you very much."

And with that, the governor left, perhaps finally putting this issue to rest -- or so he hopes, anyway.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Paul, who's on his third presidential run, and Gov. Mitt Romney, who's been running steadily since before the 2007 primaries, have to wonder, Where's the love? as the GOP faithful rush to Perry (at least they did, for a while), beg non-candidates Christie and Sarah Palin to run, and deliver longshot Herman Cain a decisive win in the Florida GOP straw poll.

There still seems to be a hole in Republican hearts.


Herman Cain handily wins Florida GOP straw poll

Rick Perry's underwhelming debates: Do they matter?

GOP debate: Rick Perry vs. Mitt Romney, plus Gary Johnson and some dogs

-- Kate O'Hare

Photos/videos: Chris Christie speaks at the Reagan library. Credits: Fox News (screenshot of Christie); (screenshot of Christie and audience).

Rick Perry grins, shrugs and swings away at Reagan Library GOP debate

Texas Gov. Rick Perry came under fire as Republican aspirants to Ronald Reagan's old job gathered under the wings of his former Air Force One tonight, for another debate aired on national TV.

Fresh from surveying wildfires in his home state, Perry was the shiny new toy at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. It was his first presidential debate, and moderators Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" and Politico editor-in-chief John Harris called on him at most every opportunity.

And he didn't disappoint, particularly in pointed exchanges with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was the presumptive front-runner until Perry entered the race on Aug. 13, the day of the Ames straw poll in Iowa.

Consider this exchange on the question of job creation:

Perry: "Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt." (A grin and a "whaddya Rick-Perry-Mitt-Romney-GOP-Debate-Reagan-Library gonna do?" sort of shrug followed.)

Romney: "George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, Governor."

Perry: "That's not correct."

Romney: "That is correct."

Williams: "Nice to see that everybody came prepared for tonight's conversation."

Or, when Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said Perry wrote a letter in the '90s "supporting Hillarycare."

Perry countered that he was his state's agriculture commissioner during the Clinton administration and that he was urging Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the first lady, not to forget rural healthcare in her proposal to overhaul healthcare policy. Then he looked at Paul and said, "I was more interested in the one you wrote to Ronald Reagan, saying, 'I'm going to quit the party because of the things you believe in.' "

"Oh," said Paul, "I need an answer on that!"

He went on to explain how he'd supported Reagan in 1976, and supported his....

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Rick Perry bills Obama administration for $350 million in illegal immigrant costs

Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry campaigns in Iowa 8-15-11

Under the Don't Hold Your Breath Department, we learned over the weekend that Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry has sent a bill to the federal government.

The frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination thinks the Department of Homeland Security should reimburse Texas for $350 million, give or take.

With the help of state Comptroller Susan Combs, Perry developed a formula to determine how much his state has had to spend on housing and feeding illegal immigrants that should have been taken care of by federal authorities.

The issue of securing the border with Mexico is a contentious one between numerous states and the Obama administration, which wants to first address the overall illegal immigrant issue, not just closing the border. The Democratic White House has sued states over their enforcement of immigration laws.

Perry has come under criticism in recent days from some conservatives who suggest  he is soft on the issue of immigrant law enforcement. But his letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, herself a former border state governor, obtained by the Associated Press, was dated Aug. 10, several days before Perry announced his candidacy in South Carolina.


Nation's debt grows $3 million every minute

Rick Perry: Use Predators to track illegal border drug traffic

Rick Perry: 'We cannot afford 4 more years of this rudderless leadership'

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images (Perry campaigns in Iowa).

Late-night jokes: Obama's new economic plan: Buy lottery tickets and hope

Carmageddon the empty 405 freeway in los angeles 7-17-11

As The Ticket's 69,000-plus Twitter followers here and 7,000 Facebook friends/fans here know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each night. Feel free to pass them on to friends using the "Share" buttons above.

Leno: The country is edging closer to default. We could be out of money by Aug 2. I'm actually surprised we have enough money to make it to then.

Fallon: The Treasury Department is shifting from paper to electronic savings bonds next year. But don’t worry — the electronic bonds will be just as worthless as the paper ones.Tim Geithner 7-10-11

Leno: Obama's latest economic recovery plan: He told Treasury Secretary Geithner to take the little money we have left and buy lottery tickets.

Leno: Democrats warned today that if the debt limit is not raised by Aug. 2, the federal government will cease to function. How do you tell?

Letterman: So CNN has canceled the TV show of ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer. And you have to wonder how will the poor guy spend an hour now.

Leno: CNN has canceled Eliot Spitzer's show, "In the Arena." Apparently network executives made the decision after realizing it was still on.

Fallon: Illinois schools are dropping the written parts of their standardized school tests. Asked why, a spokesman said, "We simple does not needs them."

Leno: Prince William and Kate immersed themselves in American culture so much during their U.S. visit they went home $2 trillion in debt.

Leno: So they closed down L.A.'s 405 freeway for the weekend. They have to do this every couple of years to sweep up the shell casings.

Leno: The jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of murder. Know what this means? Obama's economic team is now only the planet's second most clueless group of people.

Fallon: Two Delta planes collided the other day at the Boston airport. Passengers are OK except for having to pay Delta’s $50 collision fee.Dalai Lama 7-17-11

Letterman: That All-Star Baseball Game is something else? And the home run derby? What's more exciting than a home run that doesn't count? Next: a foul-tip derby.

Leno: Did you read about the Chinese toddler who fell 10 stories and was caught by a woman? The kid is OK. Didn't miss a day of work.

Leno: Over the weekend President Obama met with the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama talked about the difficulty of living under China's thumb. And Obama said, "Tell me about it."

Conan: Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, gave birth to a baby girl over the weekend. The baby’s name is Trump Granddaughter and Casino.

Conan: Borders bookstore is going to be liquidated after failing to receive a single bid to buy the company. Apparently, all the potential investors who showed up just hung around inside for a while, hoping to use the bathroom.

Leno: There was so much fear about closing L.A.'s 405 freeway for a few days that even the Mexican government told its people not to cross for a few days.


Second recession coming; When did the first end?

Great Wall of China model for U.S. border with Mexico

Seeking better economic advice, Obama opts for Magic 8-Ball

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: The closed 405 freeway in Los Angeles, Sunday. Photo credit: David McNew / Reuters. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Photo credit: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images. The Dalai Lama on Sunday. Photo credit: Keith Hale / Associated Press.

Herman Cain urged to quit presidential race by angry Latino Republicans [Video]

Herman Cain speaks in the spin room

Herman Cain found himself in hot water Monday with Latino Republicans after telling an audience that his solution to illegal immigration along the Mexican border would include a Great Wall of China-like electrified fence that would rise 20 feet high above a moat filled with alligators.

"We call on Herman Cain to drop his candidacy for president. His recent comments and lack of practical solutions to solving illegal immigration show he’s not a serious candidate," the Somos Republicans group wrote in a statement released Monday.

"Many Hispanics find his recent comments comparing immigrants to 'invading Huns' offensive, and also insensitive when thousands of immigrants died crossing the desert. We’re looking for practical and humane solutions, and find Cain’s pandering to xenophobes disgusting. Apparently nativist tea has been served up at many tea parties! Hispanics are a key swing vote, and whichever GOP candidate succeeds in winning the nomination cannot win the general election without the Hispanic vote. Cain needs to leave the field open to more serious candidates," Somos demanded.

Apparently the Arizona-based organization, which claims to be "the fastest growing Hispanic Republican group in the nation," was not impressed with the inspiration the former Godfather's Pizza chief executive received on a recent trip to Asia.

"I just got back from China," Cain told potential voters in Pella, Iowa, in early June. "Ever heard of the Great Wall of China? It looks pretty sturdy. And that sucker is real high. I think we can build one if we want to! We have put a man on the moon, we can build a fence!"

"Now, my fence might be part Great Wall and part electrical technology," Cain continued. "It will be a 20-foot wall, barbed wire, electrified on the top, and on this side of the fence, I'll have that moat that President Obama talked about. And I would put those alligators in that moat!"

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Michele Bachmann: While you weren't looking, she's taken over the GOP lead in Iowa


While much of the nation's political community focuses on the deficit stalemate in Washington and President Obama's scheduled news conference to control the news cycle this morning, a new poll reveals Rep. Michele Bachmann has surged to the lead among likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa.

Bachmann, an Iowa native who now represents a district in Minnesota, has built a lead over former Gov. Mitt Romney, who is focusing more on New Hampshire after a bitter and costly defeat in Iowa in 2008. Romney holds a huge lead in Granite state polls, although Bachmann has surged there too.

According to the new poll, Bachmann has built a four point lead over Romney, 25-21. Former Gov. Tim Michele Bachmann campaigns in New HampshirePawlenty and Herman Cain are effectively tied for third with about 9% each, with Ron Paul at 6%, Newt Gingrich at 4%, Rick Santorum at 2% and Jon Huntsman at 1%.

An upcoming major measure of the Republican field's standing in Iowa comes at the Ames Straw Poll on Aug. 13, two days after a nationally-televised debate from Iowa on the Fox News Channel.

The straw poll, actually a state party fundraiser, was until 2008 a fairly reliable predictor of the caucus winner five months later. Romney won the poll that year, but lost to Mike Huckabee in the caucuses. It was the height of the Huckabee campaign and a stinging defeat for Romney.

Romney, who spent more than $1 million on his last Ames effort, is not competing this time. Pawlenty has signed up several former key Huckabee aides this time.

A Bachmann win there, even at a meaningless summer weekend straw poll, would give her heightened media visibility and increased credibility among donors. A strong showing by Pawlenty, the former governor from next-door Minnesota, would also help his pizzaz-free campaign.

Bachmann's four-point poll margin is just within the marin of error. Perhaps more importantly, her unfavorable rating is 14 points beneath Romney's while her favorable rating is 10 points higher. That gives her a margin of 65. The poll reports: "Bachmann has found a very effective way to appeal to caucus goers."

Next behind that pair is Pawlenty with a favorable margin of 48. Perhaps as a result of his early statewide media advertising campaign, Pawlenty has improved his standing from 6% in the Des Moines Register Iowa Poll to 8.8% now, a statistical tie with Cain at 8.6%.

The poll found Bachmann running well in virtually every state media market and especially well in the Davenport area, where she has not campaigned much and which was a Romney stronghold last time.


Bachmann, Romney lead in first Iowa poll

GOP guys gasp for media oxygen as Michele Bachmann dominates early

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty says Obama is 'like a manure spreader in a windstorm'

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Alex Brandon / Associated Press (Bachmann poses for a photo with a young fan); Adam Hunger / Reuters (Bachmann campaigns in New Hampshire).

As Obama fundraises in Texas, Arizona's Gov. Jan Brewer fires back over illegal immigration

Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer 5-9-11Well, that didn't take long.

A few hours after President Obama's latest immigration reform speech, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer responded sharply, saying she hoped the Democrat's trip to El Paso, Texas was not just "about locking down votes in 2012."

Knowing full well that's exactly what the long trip and speech were about.

Earlier Tuesday within a cartel shot of the Mexican border, Obama called for comprehensive immigration reform to show impatient Hispanic supporters that he's trying to deliver on all those past promises of a path to citizenship.

Even though the Democrat has no intention of introducing such legislation and knows full well that if he did, it would never pass this Congress.

Obama claimed the porous border with Mexico has never been safer, thanks to additional agents.

(UPDATE: No wonder the president's El Paso remarks sounded like a campaign speech. They were. By evening a video of the complete 24-minute speech from MSNBC's broadcast had been distributed to millions of Obama supporters via email. Along with, of course, the opportunity to donate in U.S. funds.)

As Obama went into his second Democratic fundraiser of the night in Austin (dinner only $35,800 per plate), Brewer's office launched her short salvo (full text below).

Brewer said the president should have accepted her numerous invitations to visit Arizona, where she said nearly half the country's border apprehensions occur.

And where, the Republican state chief executive added, he could have met with frightened ranchers and law enforcement officers "who are frequently outgunned by the heavily-armed cartels."

"Everyone can agree our immigration system is broken," Brewer stated, adding:

Any reasonable fix will require the good-faith efforts of state leaders, members of Congress, local officials, the business community and the White House. But the people of America won’t be fooled again. They know that any talk of a path to citizenship is simply amnesty by another name. And they’re smart enough to recognize a political ploy when they see it.

Brewer said she suspected the president's trip was just more of the familiar "promise something, do nothing, blame someone’ strategy of this White House.Austin Texas Obama at one of two Democratic Fundraisers 5-10-11

Brewer and the Obama administration are also facing off in court over an injunction to halt enforcement of parts of the state's 2010 illegal immigration law, SB 1070. Scroll down for Brewer's full statement.

Obama aides said the president was expected to collect about $2 million from the two Austin fundraisers, before retreating back to Washington aboard Air Force One in time for Wednesday night's poetry party.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Response to the president's immigration speech by Arizona Gov. Jan  Brewer, as provided by her office

After two years of waiting, I am glad the White House has chosen to focus on immigration. But I remain skeptical. It would be a shame if this effort is more about locking down votes in 2012 than securing our nation’s border today.

First, the President should have come to the Arizona border, where I have invited him repeatedly. He should have spoken to our ranchers, who live with drug-runners and human-smugglers crossing their lands. He should have met with our law enforcement officers, who are frequently outgunned by the heavily-armed cartels.

Nearly half of our nation’s border apprehensions occur in Arizona. Our state remains America’s gateway for illegal immigration, and we continue to bear the brunt of the federal government’s failure on this issue. If the President felt confident in declaring the border secure, he should have come to tell the people of Arizona face-to-face.

Everyone can agree our immigration system is broken. Any reasonable fix will require the good-faith efforts of state leaders, members of Congress, local officials, the business community and the White House. But the people of America won’t be fooled again. They know that any talk of a path to citizenship is simply amnesty by another name. And they’re smart enough to recognize a political ploy when they see it.

I’m afraid today’s announcement is simply more of the ‘promise something, do nothing, blame someone’ political spin we’ve become accustomed to hearing from Washington. That would be a shame.    ####

Photo: Michael Schennum / Associated Press (Brewer); Bob Pearson / EPA (Obama speaking at one of two Austin party fundraisers).

Late-night's best: Oprah, Obama, Osama, Oh, Biden!

Osama bin Laden rides in President Obama's hat on a float in a festival parade in Viareggio Italy

As The Ticket's 63,000-plus Twitter followers here and 6,600 Facebook fans here know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each night. Feel free to pass them on to friends using the Share buttons above.

Letterman: So Joe Biden slept through President Obama's deficit speech. Give Biden a break. He's completely exhausted from whatever the hell he does all day.Biden Sleeping during Obama's speech 4-13-11

Leno: The FAA is taking steps to fire a Knoxville air traffic controller for sleeping five hours on duty. Taking steps? He was sleeping five hours on an eight-hour shift! What do you have to do to get fired from government?

Leno: President Obama has a plan to pay off our $14-trillion debt: He calls on all Americans to have more grandchildren to grow up and pay taxes.

Leno: The price of gas in Southern California is now close to five bucks a gallon. It's so expensive today I passed a van packed with legal Americans.

Leno: Gas prices went up 20 cents just this week! Shouldn't we stop calling it crude oil and just make it obscene oil?

Leno: A new poll says only 19% of Americans strongly approve of Obama. The other 81% do not own gas stations.

Leno: So relations are strained between the U.S. and Pakistan, which says it's slowing down the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Really? 10 years now. How do you tell slower?

Conan: Hillary Clinton said the ousting of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo sends a message to other dictators. And the message is, “If we can’t pronounce your name, you’re toast.”

Letterman: The Obamas plan a little change in this year's White House Easter Egg Roll. This year the kids will be looking for Obama’s birth certificate.

Conan: In a recent interview, President Obama said, “I miss being anonymous."  He says,....

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Millions fail to notice Janet Napolitano's end to terror alert color codes; No panic reported yet

Secretary of homeland Security Janet Napolitano file So, how are you getting along so far with no knowledge of what color terror alert you are living under? Does it affect your choice of activities or wardrobe?

As you may have heard, Janet "Man Caused Disaster" Napolitano has announced the end to the color-coded terror alert system that many people did not know was still around, if they ever understood it in the first place.

Napolitano is secretary of Homeland Security and the former governor of Arizona who's done such an impressive job in recent years of securing that state's border with Mexico against illegal intruders.

Napolitano (see photo above) is also the Obama administration official who said the government's airline security system worked according to plan back around Christmas 2009 when the....

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Overwhelming majority of Americans in both parties tell GOP to heed the 'tea party'

Bachmann Michele SOTU response 1-25-11

Remember that Constitution-citing "tea party" rabble that puzzled the media so terribly last year and helped dump so many deaf Democrats from the House of Representatives in November?

Turns out, an overwhelming percentage of adult Americans think Republicans should take heed of the upstart movement's positions and concerns as they plot to dump President Obama and even more Democrats come the 2012 election, now just 645 days away.

A new Gallup Poll out this morning finds that 71% of Americans, even many who do not think highly of the "tea party," say it's important that Republicans should take the its positions into account.

Gallup appears puzzled by its findings: While only 6% of Democrats call themselves "tea party" supporters and only 11% hold a favorable view of it, more than half of Democrats still....

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



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