Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) went on the so-called "Big Three" conservative talk radio shows on Tuesday to sell his comprehensive immigration reform plan on the day President Barack Obama gave an immigration speech in Las Vegas, Nevada and the day after a bipartisan group of senators announced a framework for immigration reform.
Rubio went on radio shows hosted by Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Levin. His appearance on Limbaugh's and Levin's programs were important because, while Hannity has expressed support for immigration reform, Limbaugh and Levin have been critical of such efforts, with Limbaugh calling the plan "amnesty" just a day before Rubio appeared on the program. He was received favorably by the two conservative firebrands, who have in the past ginned up significant opposition against so-called comprehensive immigration reform.
As Limbaugh noted–and to Rubio's credit–Rubio at least appeared on conservative talk radio to discuss his proposals and ideas, which is something other Republicans who supported immigration reform legislation have not done in the past.
“Here’s a guy who doesn’t fear talk radio, he embraced it,” Limbaugh said, of Rubio.
On Limbaugh's show, Rubio noted the immigration reform framework he supports requires the nation's borders to be secured before illegal immigrants are put on a path to citizenship and said he would not support a bill that extends Obamacare to illegal immigrants who may be granted temporary legal status.
“If ObamaCare is available to 11 million people, it blows a hole in our budget and makes this bill undoable," Rubio said on Limbaugh's show.
Limbaugh said Rubio had a "difficult job ahead" of him, because he is being honest and forthright while seeking compromise, while "Obama is seeking political victory."
"Obama doesn’t care about enforcing existing law, so people say, ‘Why would he enforce anything that’s new?’" Limbaugh said.
Rubio said he wanted to come on conservative talk radio to talk about immigration reform because conservative talk radio hosts inform the people about what is "really happening."
“One of the tasks that you do in your role here on the radio, with the many listeners you have, is to inform people about what’s really happening," Rubio said, to Limbaugh.
On Mark Levin's show, Rubio said he would rather do immigration reform "right" than "fast" and said conservatism–along with a "vast majority of Americans"--is for legal immigration.
Levin said Rubio comes off as a Senator who "tries to do the right thing."
Levin also said the framework Rubio is supporting is tougher than the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Rubio said that bill did not offer "sufficient assurance" on border security and enforcement.
"It won't have my support if the trigger is not real," Rubio said of the current immigration reform proposals being discussed. He noted to Levin that "we will be right back here again" in three or five years without those triggers.
As John Hayward noted in Breitbart News' "The Conversation," while Rubio makes "some solid arguments about the need to deal with the illegal immigrant problem in a manner consistent with political reality and American humanitarianism," the "sincerity of his colleagues - and the competence of the vast, inept system that will be charged with implementing their legislation"– is something conservatives who have been skeptical toward immigration reform should doubt.
Levin and Limbaugh both touched upon reasons conservatives should have to be skeptical of Obama and Democrats while interviewing Rubio.
Rubio noted that the country has a broken immigration system–because of policies enacted when he was in the ninth grade––and he never wanted to re-visit this issue of having to deal with so many illegal immigrants again, and that is why he was pushing for a solution to a current broken system that basically amounts to "de-facto amnesty."
He insisted the immigration framework he was supporting was not "amnesty," because illegal immigrants would first simply get a work permit--and would have to have the work permit for a "significant amount of time"–before even having the opportunity to apply for a Green Card. Rubio acknowledged that once people received a Green Card, they could have another opportunity to apply for citizenship in three to five years.
Rubio said he was "optimistic" about comprehensive immigration reform's prospects and said he wanted to do something that was "good for America."