Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo (CD-6) has made a name for himself as a one-issue congressman, using any opportunity he can to speak out against illegal immigration. In the process, Tancredo has managed to alienate a number of Republicans, including Karl Rove and President Bush. That doesn't seem to bother "Tom Tom" Tancredo; in fact, he even brags about the time Rove told him to "never darken the door of the White House again."
But locally, Tancredo may finally be pushing one two many buttons. As The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports, Republican State Party Chair Bob Martinez ripped into Tancredo for continuing to criticize Bush's immigration policy...
State Republican Party Chairman Bob Martinez on Wednesday called on Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and other lawmakers to "back off" of their criticism of President Bush's immigration policy. The comments came during a question-and-answer session that followed Martinez's remarks to the Larimer County Republican Luncheon Club. Martinez was asked why Bush hasn't helped Republican Rep. Tancredo in his quest for tighter borders and a tougher stance against illegal immigration.
Martinez, recently named chairman of the state party, said it's his job to support the president and called on congressmen to halt their "demagoguery" on the immigration issue. When approached following the meeting, Martinez said lawmakers - including Tancredo - are using terrorism fears to inflame the immigration debate. "Ninety-nine percent of the Mexicans that cross that border are not coming across the border with the intent to kill anyone," Martinez said. "I'm defending the president's position. That's all I'm doing."
Now, obviously Tancredo doesn't care if the White House likes him, and he probably isn't concerned when Democrats like Congresswoman Diana DeGette attack him for grandstanding. But at some point, Tancredo is going to have to stop making enemies among Republicans in Colorado. The more he pushes, and the more he forces people like Martinez to push back, the more danger he runs into of facing a Republican primary.
Tancredo probably isn't going to lose in a CD-6 general election any time soon, but he could very well fall in a primary if he ticks off enough Colorado Republicans. Tom Tom is running for President because he enjoys the support of extremist anti-immigration groups, but if he loses his congressional seat, then he's just some guy yelling about immigration. The only reason anybody pays attention to him at all is because he's in Congress, and if he makes too many more enemies than friends, he's not going to be in Congress much longer.
Even though immigration is a hot issue right now, Tancredo is also moving further and further away from reality in terms of his policies. From The Coloradoan:
As recently as last week, Tancredo called on the president to deploy military technology and manpower to secure the border. Specifically, Tancredo requested that illegal immigrants be registered into the National Crime Information Database. Agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be required to respond to state and local requests for assistance with immigration enforcement.
Lastly, Tancredo asked the president to direct the Justice Department to take action against local governments with sanctuary policies that shield illegal immigrants.
Tancredo was once moderately credible as a voice for stronger illegal immigration rules, and he deserves some credit for keeping the issue in the national debate. But as he gets more attention, he gets a little braver in his statements -- and less credible along the way. Registering all illegal immigrants into a national database, and then requiring Immigration and Customs agents to respond to any request for assistance, is absurd. Forget whether or not you might agree with him -- there's no way you could implement that idea. The federal government would have to increase its immigration enforcement staff 100-fold, if not more. And now he's becoming a stronger advocate of punishing local governments for not doing more to combat a problem that they can't pay for. The list of people standing behind him is getting shorter the more he speaks.
Tancredo is an interesting guy, and he's had a nice run in Congress. But more and more, you get the feeling that we're watching him drive away towards that long political cliff.