Day 1: Cindy McCain and Laura Bush, wives of the last decade's two most powerful men on the open borders side of the party. Florida Governor Charlie Crist, an amnesty proponent who often refers to his immigrant grandfather in prefacing his positions on immigration, also spoke, as did Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. Barbour helped defeat amendments to the convention's party platform that would've denied birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens and would've excluded illegal immigrants from the 2010 Census. So did Texas Governor Rick Perry, an open borders proponent who has opposed construction of a barrier along the US-Mexico border and backed McCain ahead of "Super Tuesday". Alabama Governor Bob Riley was the only speaker who has serious restrictionism in his history. Bob who? Right.
Day 2: Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman opened, who AfBI gives a C-, a mark worse than the new Democratic crop elected in '06 earns collectively. An innocuous video of a schoolage girl reading an essay about pledging allegiance to the flag tells of how taking the pledge puts her next to those at Ellis Island and those marching alongside MLK follows. The current open borders President and first lady then speak successively. Folksy Fred Thompson, who was strong on border enforcement but not much else, also spoke, and the night was closed out by Joe Lieberman, who has voted against virtually every kind of restrictionist or enforcement legislation he's ever seen.
Day 3: A couple of female CEOs kick the night off. Meg Whitman of EBay talks about fighting to the top as a woman and Carly Fiorina, formerly of HP, gives a generic support speech. Immigration isn't mentioned at all (come to think of it, was it mentioned by a single speaker at any point during the entire convention? I've skimmed through speech transcripts and haven't seen anything besides the student's mention of Ellis Island, the speech by Rosario Marin on Day 4, and the bit McCain himself closed the convention with).
Michael Steele, who made opposition to amnesty part of his failed '06 Senatorial campaign hasn't actually been in a position of power to demonstrate his actual stance, but his support for affirmative action isn't promising. Mitt Romney, who by default became the restrictionists' best hope in the primaries by attacking McCain on the amnesty he pushed with Ted Kennedy, apparently has left all of that behind him. He gave an intellectually rousing polemic, but was mute on immigration. Following him were Huckabee, who believes it is an American duty to take care of helpless immigrants, and Giuliani, who fought during his tenure as mayor to ensure NYC remained a sanctuary city. Sarah Palin closed out the night with veritable silence on immigration, suggesting she's adopting McCain's stance.
Day 4: Nevada Senator John Ensign, who has a soft spot for political asylum and economic 'refugees', but has otherwise not generally been hostile to the restrictionist side, opened. Not a peep on immigration, though. Robert Duval narrated a video continuing the "Country First" theme (not to be confused with the old America First, which was of course irredeemably isolationist and racist for celebrating pretty much the same thing, with a fatal added emphasis on non-interventionism). Then went Utah Governor John Huntsman, who either admirably or prudently failed to endorse open borders champion Chris Cannon in Utah's 3rd district Republican primary last June, in which an outspent and unknown restrictionist named Jason Chaffetz defeated the six-term Congressman.
After the RNC President spoke, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee was up, a rare restrictionist (only the second of the entire convention) who previously came out against both Bush's and the McCain-Kennedy amnesties. She did the feminist thing though. Again, nothing on immigration was offered. Next came former US Treasury Secretary Rosario Marin, now working for the Schwarzenegger administration, who greeted the crowd with a buenas noches and closed with gracias. Really promising.
A (token?) black guy named Joe Watkins came next, apparently a representative of the Red Cross. Mel Martinez, amnesty point man from Florida, came after, praising McCain's support for interventionism the world over. Painfully, Pawlenty, who was the restrictionists' only real hope for VP, spoke not as McCain's running mate but as the governor of Minnesota. Former Senator Bill Frist, who was a disaster on immigration during his time in the Senate, followed.
Then came Senator Sam Brownback, who is outdone in his open borders enthusiasm only by the Republican Presidential nominee himself (he co-sponsored the McCain-Kennedy amnesty). He was polling at a dismal 3% during the Republican primaries--why he was given a primary speaking spot on the last day of the convention is up to the reader to decide, I suppose.
Mary Fallin, another bright spot, spoke next. She didn't focus, as I would've predicted, on being the first woman elected to Congress in Oklahoma for nearly a century. Impressive. Instead, more on the ubiquitous threat of 'terrorism'. Okay, not so much. Lindsey Graham, who faces a reelection challenge from a Democratic running far to his right on immigration and was a vociferous supporter of the McCain-Kennedy amnesty, went next. Tom Ridge went in front of the McCains--the Tom Ridge, who, as Homeland Security Secretary, publicly supported legalizing the "8 to 12 million" illegal immigrants residing in the US, back in 2003--just a couple of years after 9/11.
Would McCain mention immigration at all? Well, here are virtually the only words uttered regarding the issue from any speaker during the entire convention (excepting Marin, who celebrated her Mexican heritage and spoke in Spanish*):
We believe everyone has something to contribute and deserves the opportunity to reach their God-given potential from the boy whose descendents arrived on the Mayflower to the Latina daughter of migrant workers. We’re all God’s children and we’re all Americans.Four--Riley, Pawlenty, Blackburn, and Fallin--of more than thirty speakers can possibly be considered restrictionists, even though most of the electorate is. And not one of them chose (or was permitted) to say anything about immigration, not even an innocuous platitude along the lines of "We need to secure our borders before we do anything else".
Vote for Baldwin or Barr.
* It was made apparent that English isn't her first language when she celebrated herself for being "the first immigrant of America". Really, that's what she said (see 1:30 into the video). She was supposed to say something along the lines of being the first immigrant to be Treasurer of the United States of America, but she just focused on the important part.