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McCain: GOP must pass immigration to compete in 2016

Without immigration reform, the former presidential candidate says, the Republican Party won't win in 2016.

By Gabrielle Levy
McCain: GOP must pass immigration to compete in 2016
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 10 (UPI) -- John McCain has joined the pile-on who say the Republican Party must help pass immigration reform if it hopes to compete for the White House in 2016.

"I agree with Mr. [Tom] Donohue, the head of the Chamber of Commerce," McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. "It doesn't matter who we nominate. We'll [lose]."

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McCain was referring to a statement made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce president last month, that Republicans "shouldn't bother to run a candidate in 2016" if immigration reform doesn't pass Congress this year.

"I mean, think about that," he said. "Think about who the voters are."

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Democrats in the House have adopted the line in trying to convince the Republican House leadership to schedule a vote an immigration reform bill that was approved by the Senate nearly a year ago.

Latinos, for whom the immigration debate is most salient, have voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates in the past several elections, a fact McCain remembers better than most. Although he co-authored an immigration reform bill in 2006, McCain lost two-thirds of the Hispanic vote to Obama in 2008.

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And in 2012, when the official Republican Party platform supported encouraging efforts that would promote "self-deportation," Mitt Romney did even worse, with barely a quarter of Hispanics voting for him.

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Congressional Democrats have given the July 4 recess as a deadline for when they believe the House would have to move on legislation if it stands a chance of passing before the end of the term.

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