Republicans and President Obama agree that this week’s decision by a federal judge to defang Arizona’s illegal immigration law shines a spotlight on the need for an immigration reform debate that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently declared dead for the year.
But the two sides are unlikely to sort it out on the floor of the House and Senate, instead turning the matter into a talking point ahead of this fall’s midterm elections.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has argued that the Wednesday ruling by Judge Susan Bolton demonstrates the need to listen to the president, who pledges to make the immigration initiative a first-year priority but has seen it slip through the sizeable cracks in congressional cooperation.
“I think we will talk about the need for everyone involved to step up and solve that problem,” Gibbs said about immigration. “I hope that everybody that’s running for office at a federal level this fall will talk about, after the judge has ruled that this is the purview of the federal government, I hope each of these candidates will discuss what they think and what the federal government must do to deal with it.”
Democrats are facing a negative political climate this year as anti-incumbent fever sweeps the country. And while the ruling gave Obama a first-round victory in court, it may have breathed new life into the Republican effort to regain control of Congress as the renewed spotlight on illegal immigration helps fire up the conservative base for GOP candidates, campaign strategists in both parties said this week.