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Bush might get cool Orange County welcome

April 23, 2006 at 11:45 PM

IRVINE, Calif., April 23 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush was reportedly headed for a cool reception by a prominent Republican in Southern California, over the issue of immigration.

The president's schedule called for him to pitch his immigration reform plan to the Orange County Business Council in Irvine, Calif. The Los Angeles Times reported one of the GOP's best-known local figures, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, planned to skip the speech.

"I don't want to be behind him looking glum and not applauding," Rohrabacher said. "So as not to be rude to the president -- which I think is inexcusable -- I think I'll just be staying away."

Orange County is a flashpoint for the national immigration debate. Its sheriff has called for some deputies to be cross-trained in immigration enforcement, and the county was the birthplace of Proposition 187, the 1994 California ballot measure to deny public services to illegal immigrants.

John Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College who used to live in Orange County and worked for the national GOP, said the president's schedulers don't seem to realize how complicated the issue is.

"I'm not sure they had their O.C. antennae up," he said.

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