U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton reportedly spoke at a Colorado Restaurant Association Political Action Committee meeting in Denver Thursday and told the audience that the country needs a “workable immigration system.” The comments spurred Tom Tancredo’s American Legacy Alliance to send out the kind of watchdog-style press release that seems to increasingly follow Norton speaking events, this time coming not from a Democratic Party organization but from a champion of the state’s grass roots right.
“I ask that Jane clarify her comments and explain what a ‘workable’ immigration system actually is,” Tancredo is quoted to say in the release, which captures Tancredo’s rapid-fire style. “That has become a code word for amnesty legislation. This kind of pro-amnesty rhetoric is virtually identical to that of John McCain.”
The Norton campaign did not return calls for comment.
The so-called amnesty plan championed most notably by George W. Bush, John McCain and the late Ted Kennedy, would have instituted a temporary worker program for non-citizens and a path toward citizenship for the millions of non-citizens already residing in the country.
Tancredo said the National Restaurant Association was one of the organizations that lead the fight for amnesty legislation in 2006 and 2007, when Tancredo was still serving as a Representative of the state’s Sixth District. In the release he argues that Norton may have been playing to the crowd, using the venue to “put some distance between herself and [primary rival] Ken Buck’s strong stand against amnesty,” he said.
Weld County D.A. Ken Buck is seen as a champion of the anti-illegal immigrant movement here. He gained notice last year for spearheading a hardline identity theft probe that targeted thousands of undocumented workers and was later ruled unconstitutional.
More recently, he called the current federal policy on illegal immigration “broken,” saying the nation needed to strengthen its border security but also reform the process so that it’s easier to become a legal immigrant.
Tancredo has not been a fan of Norton from the time she announced her candidacy, helping solidify the “Jane and McCain” label that has dogged her campaign among grassroots Republican voters.
In September, Tancredo told the Denver Post that Norton should have called fellow Republicans statewide early in the year and outlined her reasons for wanting to run for office. She didn’t do that, he said. Instead, McCain, “a family friend and political ally,” talked her into running.
“Does John McCain have a right to do that? Sure. Do I have a right to bitch about it? You bet,” he said.
Norton was a main backer of the McCain campaign in Colorado last year but the Arizona Senator was seen as a soft conservative, or what is now known as a RINO, a Republican in Name Only. Mitt Romney trounced McCain in the GOP caucus here in 2008, pulling down 60 percent of the votes to McCain’s 18 percent.
“If Jane is serious about becoming the next Colorado Senator, she must come out against any form of amnesty for illegal aliens,” Tancredo said. “The last thing Colorado needs is a lap dog for John McCain in the Senate.”