Magazine article Newsweek

I'm More Anti-Illegals!

Magazine article Newsweek

I'm More Anti-Illegals!

Article excerpt

Byline: Howard Fineman

In normal times, Steve King is an obscure figure -- A low-ranking Republican congressman from rural western Iowa. But these aren't normal times: Iowa's caucuses are almost here. So King suddenly is a kingmaker and symbol of his party's growing -- and politically risky -- obsession with immigration, which is now the top concern among likely GOP voters in Iowa and No. 2 in New Hampshire and South Carolina. King favors deporting the nation's estimated 12 million illegals, and he is surveying the field for a nationally salable soulmate. "This is my 'destiny setter' issue," he told me. He plans to set up shop in a Des Moines hotel lobby until caucus night "so I can talk about this to everyone."

Heading into what could be a series of photo finishes, Republican candidates are trampling each other as they race toward the Kings of the party. The latest is Rudy Giuliani, who has the most distance to cover. As New York mayor, he ran what was widely considered a sanctuary city for illegals. Now he's airing a TV ad that applies his tough-guy persona to the issue (though he doesn't call for deportation). In an interview with author Bill Sammon, Giuliani suggested he wanted to deport the city's 400,000 illegals, but couldn't because the Clinton administration wouldn't go along. Giuliani's foes note he sued the administration to preserve benefits for illegals.

While Giuliani plays defense, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are attacking each other. As Massachusetts governor, Romney took some restrictive stands (no driver's licenses for illegals or in-state tuition assistance, for example). Now he aims to burst the Huckabubble in a new ad that points out that the former Arkansas governor once favored giving college scholarships to illegals. (Fred Thompson jumped in as well with a slick mail piece poking fun at "Huckabee U. …

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