WND staff reporter Jerome Corsi is in Des Moines to report on the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus and to participate in the FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) talk radio row.
DES MOINES – Republican candidates Fred Thompson, Ron Paul and Alan Keyes showed up at the Federation for American Immigration Reform talk radio row in Des Moines to talk about immigration policy, and surrogates for Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee made appearances.
But other Republicans – and all Democratic candidates – declined the opportunity, despite national television coverage from both Fox News and CNN.
Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., was present to support his choice, former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, who was campaigning in New Hampshire.
“I support Romney not because I was born and raised in Massachusetts,” Arpaio said in an interview with WND, “but I love his stance on illegal immigration.”
Arpaio currently serves as Romney’s honorary chairman for Arizona.
“Mitt Romney is a great guy,” Arpaio said, “and it is very important for this country to have a president who believes our problem with illegal immigration should be solved.”
“Romney is a family man with excellent moral character,” he said. “Romney was a successful businessman who ran a pretty tough Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I like the guy and think he would make a great president.”
Billing himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” Arpaio gained a national reputation earlier this year by directing the 3,000 men and women in the nation’s third-largest sheriff’s department to arrest illegal immigrants.
Arpaio added his name to the growing list of high profile border security advocates whose candidate endorsements have made them a factor in the Iowa caucus.
Jim Gilchrist, founder of The Minuteman Project, appeared on many shows to air support for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and defend his endorsement against a barrage of questions about Huckabee’s record on immigration in Arkansas.
Directly countering Gilchrist and opposing Huckabee was Peter Gadiel, a board member of 9/11 Families for a Secure America.
On 9/11 Gadiel lost his son James, who did not survive the collapse of the World Trade Center South Tower.
Gadiel and Dan Smeriglio, the founder of Voice of the People, were part of a team brought to Des Moines by William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, or ALIPAC, to counter Gilchrist and campaign against Huckabee.
“There is absolutely no way that Mike Huckabee can be in the lead in Iowa among Republican voters, unless they are in the dark about his record and stances on immigration issues,” Gheen told WND. “Before our team leaves Iowa, we will have done our best to rectify the situation.”
ALIPAC is buying radio ads in Iowa and launching volunteer phone calls to inform Iowa voters of an ALIPAC-sponsored letter signed by 84 immigration enforcement organizations opposing Gilchrist and Huckabee.
9/11 Families for a Secure America and Voice of the People are both signatories to the ALIPAC letter.
Ambassador Alan Keyes
While making FAIR talk show rounds, presidential candidate Alan Keyes argued to WND that he was the only candidate who offers a consistent conservative argument on the need for border security.
“My opponents are all counterfeits,” Keyes said. “There was not a time in his career that Huckabee didn’t have a ‘you all come’ sign on the border, welcoming illegal immigrants into Arkansas.”
“If we let politicians manipulate the voters into an outcome, we have become pawns in the hands of the most skillful political liars,” he said. “I don’t make it up for the moment. America needs to be true to its principles and its Constitution.”
Keyes, the only current Republican candidate to have competed in the 2004 Iowa caucus, came in third in that race.
Thompson, who toured talk radio row in an open-collar shirt, warmed by a sweater and leather jacket, spent an hour in an interview with Jan Mickelson of WHO-AM in Des Moines.
“Tall fences and wide gates,” was Thompson’s catch-phrase for expressing to the talk radio audience his call for border security as a top national priority.
Ron Paul told talk show hosts that the Security and Prosperity Partnership and a European Union-style merger with Mexico and Canada were the reasons the Bush administration was allowing U.S. borders to remain wide open some six years into a war on terror.
“Borders exist and we don’t want to head toward a North American Union,” he told talk show listeners. “The promise of amnesty, free medical care, free education, social security, birth right citizenship all make the incentives so great that we attract illegal immigrants, even at the cost of losing jobs for Americans and messing up our economy.”