In the wake of Rep. Eric Cantor’s stunning primary defeat Tuesday night, many conservatives have rushed to declare the outcome a referendum on Republican efforts to pursue immigration reform, a key wedge issue in the race. But Tea Party hero Sen. Rand Paul isn’t buying it.
A senior adviser to Paul told BuzzFeed Wednesday morning that the Kentucky senator rejects early analysis arguing that the GOP base has adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward immigration reform. “Elections are almost never a referendum on one issue; they are a referendum on the people on the ballot,” the adviser said.
Paul is scheduled to appear Wednesday on a teleconference with Grover Norquist, a conservative champion of immigration reform, to discuss the need for action on the issue. He agreed to participate in the call long before Cantor’s defeat and the wave of celebration by immigration hawks it caused, but Paul’s advisers says he has no plans to change his message.
“He’s going to say what he’s always said; that yes, he believes we need immigration reform. Anybody who looks at the system has to admit it’s broken,” the adviser said. “But he has always said that reform needs to start first at the border, and that any reforms that follow that are staggered over a number of years, contingent on border security, and sent back to Congress every year so they can say, yes, these reforms are working.”