Republican hopefuls are set to gather in New Hampshire tonight for the first Presidential forum of the 2016 election (America’s Voice will be covering it live on Twitter — more on that here).
Already, the GOP candidate field is the largest in American political history, with 14 of the candidates — minus Mike Huckabee, Jim Gilmore, and leading candidate Donald Trump — agreeing to appear in-person or via satellite (Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul will be in D.C. due to Senate votes).
While tonight’s event won’t be formatted like a typical debate — that’s set for Thursday’s event in Cleveland, Ohio — participants will be answering questions from among the thousands submitted by readers of the New Hampshire Union Leader and other partner organizations.
The top two topics submitted, according to the Union Leader? “Immigration and the economy.”
And with some Republican debates drastically altering the course of Presidential campaigns — it was at a televised debate in Florida where Mitt Romney infamously unveiled his “self-deportation” policy to the American public — we’ll definitely be paying attention to what kind of tone immigration receives going into the debate season.
Notably, tonight’s forum also marks the lone GOP event where candidates will be able to gather without the presence of The Donald (he declined his invitation due to an unflattering newspaper editorial, apparently).
At least one candidate has taken advantage of Trump’s absence, with Jeb Bush releasing a six-point immigration plan featuring the usual “secure the border first” talking point, which we’ve recognized as a coded, GOP-way to say “comprehensive immigration reform never”:
Bush proposed tightening border security through a more pro-active Border Patrol and greater surveillance, as well as a crackdown on both immigrants who overstay their visas and sanctuary cities.
“I am committed to addressing the problem of illegal immigration in a comprehensive fashion so we can respond to the legitimate concerns of the American people and build stronger support for legal immigration,” Bush wrote in a blog on the medium.com website.
Below are a few resources from America’s Voice that will be useful as candidates answer questions on immigration (or conversely, try to skirt the issue):
- Find America’s Voice’s Election 2016 portal here.
- Click here for backgrounders on all 2016 GOP candidates for President—and their positions on immigration.
- New America’s Voice Report: “2016 Republicans and Immigration – What They Say, What They Mean, & Why it Matters”
Additionally, America’s Voice offers some relevant facts and reminders about the real state of play on immigration policy, including key questions on immigration for the Republican contenders, aimed at getting beyond “sand-in-your-face” soundbites to an actual discussion of policy. Check it out here.