U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo
Rep. Tom Tancredo’s decision to drop out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination was expected, but his announcement today to support former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney surprised many observers.
The anti-illegal immigration champion narrowed his choice to candidates he believes have a chance to win, Tancredo campaign spokeswoman Bay Buchanan explained to WND.
“We looked at this race and determined there are a number of candidates who are abysmal on the immigration issue,” said Buchanan, the sister of pundit and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.
“We have championed the issue of border security, and the last thing we wanted to do was support a pro-amnesty candidate,” she said.
Buchanan said Tancredo concluded there were four candidates who stood a chance to win the Iowa caucus and ultimately the presidency – Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.
“After studying the immigration policy statements of these four, we decided three were so awful they were really on the other side,” she said.
“We met with Romney and questioned him hard,” Buchanan continued. “We decided Romney has the best plan.”
She said Tancredo’s team “viewed the Huckabee plan as nothing more than the (Mike) Pence touch-back program,” referring to a proposal by the Indiana congressman that would allow illegals to gain legal status by briefly returning to their home countries.
“Besides, as governor of Arkansas, Huckabee did everything he could to bring illegal aliens into the state,” Buchanan argued.
“Giuliani ran New York virtually as a sanctuary city, and McCain lost credibility joining forces with Kennedy on comprehensive immigration reform,” she added.
“We liked what we heard from Romney,” Buchanan concluded, “and we decided he was our best choice to get an immigration policy Tom Tancredo could support.”
With Romney now locked in a neck-and-neck battle with Huckabee, Tancredo’s endorsement of Romney counters the former Arkansas governor’s support from Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project.
For the first time since joining forces at the border in 2005, Gilchrist and Tancredo have become political opponents.
As WND reported, Gilchrist’s endorsement of Huckabee generated a backlash that divided the border security lobby and Minuteman movement. Some of the critics contend Huckabee supported illegal immigration as governor of Arkansas.
“Tancredo’s word is gold in our movement,” William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, or ALIPAC, told WND.
“Tancredo was not running to win,” Gheen said. “He was running to get the issue of illegal immigration on the table. Tancredo can now exit the race with a ‘Mission Accomplished.'”
Gheen said his organization planned to take a new look at Romney after the Tancredo endorsement.
Romney now may be able to use the support to deflect criticism of his border policies, just as Gilchrist’s endorsement has been useful to Huckabee.
Huckabee responded, “Well, not hardly. They can go to my website and see a nine-point plan that we put together. It was impressive enough that the founder of the Minutemen Project, Jim Gilchrist, offered his endorsement of me. I think that surprised a lot of people.”
WND reported today pollster Scott Rasmussen’s analysis that while Huckabee still leads Romney by one percentage point in Iowa, the “Huckaboom may have crested.”
If Tancredo is able to bring some of his two or three points of support in Iowa to Romney, along with swaying some undecideds and waverers, he could help tip the Jan. 3 caucus in Romney’s favor.