Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush believes he can convince conservative primary voters that illegal immigrants should be “punished”–by being granted a path to amnesty.
In an interview from Liberty University that aired Monday on Fox News, host Megyn Kelly told him, “you know that there’s a core wing of the party for whom this will be a deal breaker.” Bush replied, “I don’t know that.”
“I’ve been traveling over the last three months. I get a sense that a lot of people can be persuaded, to be honest with you,” he said.
Polls, though, have shown conservatives in early primary states will not vote for Bush because of his pro-amnesty views. For instance, 41% of likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire declared that Bush’s position on immigration would be a “deal-killer” in a recent Saint Anselm College/Bloomberg poll.
Bush, who has insisted that the can “persuade” conservatives on amnesty, said that “illegal immigration ought to be punished by coming out from the shadows, earning legal status over an extended period of time where you pay a fine, where you work, where you don’t receive government assistance, where you learn English, where you don’t — where you’re deported if you commit a crime, as is the law.”
He said that since “the option of self-deportation or making things so harsh” and “rounding people up door to door” are not practical, “a practical solution of getting to fixing the legal system is also allowing for a path to legalize status–not necessarily citizenship.”
Bush also said that he would “absolutely” reverse President Barack Obama’s executive actions if he were president and push for a comprehensive amnesty bill, which would permanently give amnesty to nearly every illegal immigrant.
Bush, who has said that Republicans must be willing to “lose the primary to win the general” election, also said he will not change his views on immigration and amnesty to appease conservative voters.
“Do you want people to just bend with the wind, to mirror people’s sentiment whoever is in front of you? ‘Oh, yes, I used to be for that but now, I’m for this,'” he said. “Is that the way we want to elect presidents?”