In what appeared to be one of the required rituals at this year's CPAC 2015 gathering, which was sucking up to Faux "news" host, right wing hate talker and propagandist Sean Hannity, potential GOP 2016 presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio made sure the audience there knew that he had been properly beaten down after being foolish enough to try to do the right thing on immigration reform back in 2013.
He assured Hannity that he'd never make that mistake again.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he's learned he was wrong on his approach to immigration reform.Rubio, a onetime Tea Party favorite whose support for a comprehensive immigration reform package hurt him with the GOP base, told the conservative crowd that he now understands U.S. borders must be secured before anything else can be done.
"It wasn't very popular, I don't know if you know that from some of the folks here," Rubio said with a smile, earning laughs from the crowd, when asked about his earlier support for the bill by Fox News host Sean Hannity.
"You have 10 or 12 million people in this country, many of whom have lived here for longer than a decade, have not otherwise violated our law other than immigration laws, I get all that," Rubio said. "But what I've learned is you can't even have a conversation about that until people believe and know, not just believe but it's proven to them that future illegal immigration will be controlled."
That tone is a big change from his support for the 2013 bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that badly wounded him with the GOP base, though it's a return to the views he held before he joined the bipartisan group.
Rubio said recent border issues had proven his earlier approach was wrong, calling a border security first approach "the only way forward."
"You can't just tell people you're going to secure the border, we're going to do E-Verify. You have to do that, they have to see it, they have to see it working, and then they're going to have a reasonable conversation with you about the other parts, but they're not going to even want to talk about that until that's done first. And what's happened over the last two years, the migratory crisis this summer, the two executive orders, that's even more true than it's been."
Rubio's shift on the issue is the latest sign he's leaning toward a presidential run, as he looks to repair relations with conservatives. It's also a marked split from his former mentor and likely opponent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who has doubled down on his support for immigration reform.