This morning’s must-read is from Mike Allen’s “Behind the Curtain” series in which the POLITICO reporter explains what exactly is Marco Rubio thinking.
“Rubio brought an immigration lawyer from Florida onto his Senate staff just to deal with the fine print
… There’s no chance that the base will be excited about a deal that’s been embraced by Obama and the Democrats in the gang. But Rubio is building in several insurance policies:
1) Behind the scenes, Rubio has been courting conservative leaders and talk-radio hosts, hoping they’ll give him leeway when he needs it. One of his arguments: There’s nothing conservative about having 11 million people in the country illegally. So far, he has been encouraged by what he has heard. In late January, when the Senate gang issued the framework that it is now filling in, Rubio did a tour of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and other conservative talkers, and got a surprisingly respectful – even favorable – response. On Easter Sunday, 36 minutes before the Sunday shows began, Rubio put out a statement saying reports of a final agreement were premature. He didn’t want the conservatives he has been courting to think he had cut a deal without consulting or informing them.
2) The proposal’s pathway to citizenship will be triggered by a rigorous set of metrics that … will take years for the U.S. to meet. …
3) Rubio advisers studied conservative objections to past immigration packages and found that a frequent complaint was that the measures had been too rushed. So Rubio has very publicly insisted on multiple hearings, and a wide-open debate and amendment process in the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor. “In order to succeed, this process cannot be rushed or done in secret,” he said in Sunday’s statement. He wants buy-in from other Republican senators, and a big number on final passage, not a close vote. … Some Democratic officials are convinced it’s too late for Rubio to torpedo a deal. “There is so much of the policy figured out at this point, it would seem purely political to suddenly pick up and abandon the effort,” one aide said. But there are months of delicate maneuvering ahead, with lots of exit ramps.”