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With the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus approaching, Republican front-runner Mike Huckabee dispatched Jim Gilchrist of The Minuteman Project to the Federation for American Immigration Reform talk radio row in Des Moines to proclaim his message.
In interviews with radio hosts such as key Iowa personality Jan Mickelson of WHO-AM in Des Moines, Gilchrist argued Huckabee’s “Secure America Plan” means the estimated 12 million or more illegal immigrants in the United States would be required to return to their home countries in the first 120 days of a Huckabee administration.
Moreover, Gilchrist insisted the millions of self-deported illegal immigrants and their families would go to the back of the line to wait maybe for years to re-enter the United States.
Still, Gilchrist was hard pressed to explain to incredulous radio hosts how 100,000 illegal immigrants were going to self-deport themselves per day to achieve the stated goal.
In interview after interview, Gilchrist said under the Huckabee plan, those who refuse to leave would be deported by immigration authorities when and if they ran afoul of state or local law enforcement, with the added penalty of being refused lawful re-entry for 10 years.
Talk show hosts peppered Gilchrist with questions about Huckabee’s record of support for illegal immigrants when he was Arkansas governor.
“As much as I like Gilchrist, I can’t buy that Huckabee has suddenly gone tough on border security,” Roger Hedgecock of KOGO-AM in San Diego and KFI-AM in Los Angeles told listeners following his interview with Gilchrist.
Gilchrist also decided to stay in Iowa through the weekend, at Huckabee’s request, to ride along in the media bus as Huckabee makes a last round of speeches through the dozens of small towns that dot Iowa’s farmlands.
Gilchrist’s defense, however, faltered when the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto became a subject of discussion.
Competing candidate Fred Thompson immediately spoke of the “bigger picture,” and “a clash of civilizations” in which the assassination is placed. But Huckabee make a mistake, in “apologizing” to Pakistan for the assassination when it appeared he meant to offer condolences.
He also commented on the nation’s current martial law, although that status already had been ended by President Pervez Musharraf.
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