MSNBC Scarborough Country - Transcript -
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REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA: The destiny of America hangs in the balance!
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SCARBOROUGH: And angry Americans believe that it hangs in the balance. They continue to jam Republican lawmakers phone lines, daring the GOP to pass the presidents plan. But judging from the blowback today and this weekend, that bill has about as much hope of passing as Paris Hilton has of being elected the next pope. Dont hold your breath, Vicente. It aint happening.
So will President Bush back down? Will the Senate say sayonara to their amnesty package? And will conservatives continue to punish the president they once so loved?
I asked a congressional leader on the immigration bill whether he believed the Senate was trying to push amnesty on the American people.
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REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: Oh, it does, Joe. No matter how they define it, its amnesty. They can call it legalization. They can call it a pathway to citizenship. But it allows people who are here illegally to remain legally, and that isthats amnesty. Thatsthats rewarding people who broke the law.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, then, Congress, that also means the president of the United States supports amnesty, right?
KING: Yes. Listen, I have a great regard for President Bush, but on this issue, where he says hes against amnesty but he supports the pathway to citizenship, thats just a euphemism for amnesty. No matter how they slice it, no matter how they try to define it, this is amnesty. These are people who came to the country illegally, who dont deserve to be in the country, that are going to be allowed to remain in the country. And even if it takes them 5, 10 or 11 years to become citizens, during that entire period, they can stay here and apparently also get credit for, you know, back tax refunds and EITC money, Social Security...
SCARBOROUGH: So its still amnesty, right?
SCARBOROUGH: So tell metell me whats wrong? Whats going on at the White House? You, of course, were the person to get out in front and oppose the presidents plan to turn our ports over to an Arab country that had connections with 9/11. Now the presidents crossed conservatives on this issue of immigration. What exactly is going on at the White House, at a time that the president has 29 percent approval ratings and actually needs his conservative base with him more than ever?
KING: Joe, I cant figure it out. Karl Rove has come up to the Republican conference the last two weeks to try to convince us. He made absolutely no headway at all. And he was actually well received as a person, but as far as his views, I would say 9 out of 10 or 19 out of 20 of the people who got up and spoke were adamantly opposed to what he was saying. They told him this is amnesty. They told him its not going to fly. And its not just conservative Republicans.
Its not just Republicans from more conservative parts of the country, like the South and the Southwest. Were talking about Chris Shays from Connecticut, who has said in the last week that he cant support whatyou know, this pathway to citizenship, which is really amnesty. And my district, which is outside New York City, Joe, I would say 95 percent of the phone calls, e-mails and letters that Im getting are totally opposed to what the presidents doing.
The president, who really did have his finger on the pulse on so many issues, is really missing it on this. And the Senate Republicans are even more out of touch. I cant believe how they are turning off not just the Republican base but also what you and I would call the Reagan Democrats, the independent swing voters, the people in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. They are totally opposed to this.
SCARBOROUGH: So Congressman, you and your fellow House Republicans, and quite a few House Democrats, I would guess, by the time this vote came about, would rather see no bill at all, no immigration bill at all, than the Senate bill that the president supports.
KING: I have said time and again that no bill is better than a bad bill.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Congressman Peter King, thanks for being with us again. It looks like another big fight ahead that it looks like the presidents going to have to back down on once again.
KING: Thank you, Joe.
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