Former Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., during his run for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination
Former Colorado congressman and Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo told WND today that if no one to his liking emerges in the 2012 run for the White House, he will consider another bid for the GOP nomination and would not rule out becoming a third-party candidate, as a “last option.”
Tancredo, known for his strong stance against illegal immigration, spoke to WND after a Dutch newspaper published an interview article in which he said he didn’t view the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, as “presidential.”
Tancredo told WND that if Republicans “end up repeating the mistakes of the past” he would run again.
“I am convinced that we’ve got one more shot at this before the Republican Party comes apart at the seams, if they really don’t get it right,” he said.
‘I’m willing to be sort of a team player, although I certainly have no strong philosophical commitment to the Republican Party,” he added. “It’s just a mechanism … not a thing with which you can have some great affinity.”
Tancredo, a WND columnist, said if the party picks “somebody really good,” he would “take a pass.”
“But who is that? Right now I cannot tell you that I see anybody that fits the bill,” he said.
Tancredo told WND he would be open to running as a third-party candidate but “only as a last option.”
He also wouldn’t rule out supporting a third-party candidate.
“It is possible, depending on the situation,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to say anything about that right now. We just don’t know who the people are. It could be that we’re gonna have somebody great.
“We had a pretty good result after we had a goofball named Carter,” he said, referring to President Reagan’s 1980 victory. “So who knows what we can end up with? It’s possible to get somebody good, and if it [happens], I’ll be working for them.”
Tancredo was the keynote speaker at the Constitution Party’s annual meeting in Phoenix last October, titling his address, “Throw the Bums Out.”
McCain ‘peculiarly unstable’
In the Dutch interview, Tancredo did not hide his distaste for Palin’s 2008 running mate, Sen. John McCain, who he said would make a “terrible president.”
“I don’t like him,” Tancredo told NRC Handelsblad. “He is not a very pleasant person. He is nasty, mean; the skin of an onion would look deep compared to his. He has a short fuse, he is almost peculiarly unstable.”
Tancredo – who recounted to the Dutch interviewer a 1999 dustup he had with McCain that set the tone for their relationship – made a point of explaining to WND that he was not saying he thought McCain was “crazy” but that the Arizona senator’s temper would make him unfit for the presidency.
“He flies off the handle so quickly,” Tancredo said.
Tancredo bowed out of the 2008 presidential race before the primary season began and surprised many with his endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He chose not to run for re-election in 2008 after representing Colorado’s 6th District, near Denver, for five terms.
Tancredo made it clear in his 2008 bid for the White House that he entered because he thought no one else was adequately addressing immigration.
“If you want to call me a single-issue candidate, that’s fine, just so long as you know that my single issue is the survival and the success of the conservative movement in America,” he said in his speech to the 2007 Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC.
Palin has not said whether she will to run in 2012, but after resigning the Alaska governorship mid-term last year, she has become a leading GOP voice and a popular tea party figure.
Palin and Tancredo were both featured speakers at the Tea Party Nation Convention in Nashville last month.
Tancredo drew heat for telling the convention audience, “Because we don’t have a civics literacy test to vote, people who couldn’t even spell vote, or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House named Barack Hussein Obama.”
Among the critics charging Tancredo with bigotry was Colorado House Speaker Terrance Carroll, who said such tests are racially biased. Tancredo demanded Carroll retract his charge and sent him a copy of the federal government’s 100-question quiz for naturalization.
“Tell me which of these questions you think are racial in character and how such a test is discriminatory,” Tancredo asked the lawmaker in a letter.
Tancredo said in an e-mailed statement to the Denver Daily News Feb. 8 that to “suggest that a civics literacy test will necessarily be discriminatory is absurd.”
“I have long advocated a civics literacy test for voters and have often suggested we could use the same test as used for immigrants seeking to become naturalized citizens,” he said.
‘Pretty much a squish
In the interview with the Dutch paper, Tancredo said he didn’t believe Palin would make a good president.
“I really don’t have this feeling about her as being presidential,” Tancredo said. “I don’t know what it is exactly. I don’t know if the issues really are that difficult for her or not.”
Tancredo told WND he didn’t have his own political future in mind when he made the remarks about Palin.
“I was reflecting what I think of her at the moment,” he said. “I truly wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh, you know, here’s a chance to position myself.’”
“I’m not that strategic, to tell you the truth,” he said, laughing.
Tancredo told WND that if Palin were the party’s choice, he would need to have her clarify her stance on a number of issues, particularly immigration.
When she ran with McCain, he said, she was “pretty much a squish.”
John McCain, Sarah Palin, Todd Palin with son, Trig, after the Arizona senator’s acceptance speech in St. Paul, Minn., in September 2008 (WND photo)
Tancredo said he understood that as a vice-presidential candidate, Palin could not freely express her own views, “but if that’s really how she feels, if she’s looking for a ‘pathway to citizenship,’ well, no, I’m not going to support her, absolutely not.”
“She’s a nice lady, and I like lots of the things she says, but then there are some very basic questions I would have to have answered,” he told WND. “And that’s one. What is her real, honest-to-God position on illegal immigration and immigration in general?”
Tancredo said the U.S. needs a moratorium on immigration, and “I’m almost sure she’s not going to support that.”
Tancredo told the Dutch paper he questioned whether Palin “has what it takes” to be president” and “whether she really wants it.”
“As governor of the state of Alaska, she doesn’t have all that kind of experience. She can get better. But I don’t know if she is really looking to do it,” he told NRC Handelsblad.
Asked whether maintaining speculation about whether she will run was a way to sell books, referring to her No. 1 bestselling “Going Rogue,” Tancredo replied, “Sure. Make a lot of money and stay in the mix. I think that’s a great idea.”
The Dutch paper asked Tancredo what he learned about Palin from her decision to campaign for McCain in his 2010 Senate campaign against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who largely shares Tancredo’s views on immigration.
“That tells me she is a Republican,” he said. “I am not. I mean, I am a member of that party and that will always stay that way. But to me it’s only a mechanism, a way to get on the ballot and all that. But she is a real Republican.”
The Dutch interviewer pointed out that in his Tea Party Nation speech, Tancredo noted Palin could finally express her views now that she was free from McCain.
“I said: ‘Now she can tell it like it is.’ And she chooses not to,” Tancredo clarified.
The Dutch paper then asked: “So at the end of the day you are not that fond of her?”
“You are right. I was much fonder of her before she chose to get involved in the McCain thing. She didn’t have to do it.”
‘Patriot for profit’
Tancredo told WND he’s concerned that Republican activists who favor open borders, such as Grover Norquist and former Rep. Dick Armey, are trying to co-opt the tea party movement.
He called Norquist “a patriot for profit.”
“Big bucks support him, and those big bucks want open borders, and they want some sort of legitimacy for radical Islamists,” he said.
Armey, he said, “is seen by a lot of people as more traditional conservative and has a lot of money,” but “he’s not on our side.”
Tancredo told WND that in his speech to the Tea Party Nation Convention in Nashville he “tested” whether illegal immigration was an important issue with the millions who consider themselves part of the tea-party movement.
“These were folks who truly were coming from all over the United States,” he said of the more than 500 participants in Nashville. “I thought it would be an excellent audience to determine the extent to which this resonated. And I got three standing ovations. So my gut tells me it is a huge issue with them, and of course should be.”
Tancredo said concerns about the issue are not limited to “the cultural implications of massive immigration of people who don’t want to be Americans.”
“Forget about that for a moment and just look at the monetary burden we have to carry in this country to maintain the infrastructure for 30 million people who are here illegally,” he said.
“So if you are only in the tea party because you want some sort of fiscal integrity, believe me, this is a huge issue.”
Tancredo said he was the only one who raised the issue in Nashville, “but the reaction was wonderful, and it’s exactly what I expected, because these people see it.”
“They are grass roots. They see what’s happening in their community, at their hospitals and the cost of education for children who are here illegally,” he said. “They see it all and Grover Norquist doesn’t.”