Friday, July 11, 2008

McCain Campaign Conference Call With U.S. Senator Mel Martinez

"Senator McCain has valiantly fought the good fight, at the height of the primary, at whatever political risk it would bring." -- U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL)

Today, U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign held a press conference call with U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) to discuss the release of the "God's Children" television ad:

Senator Mel Martinez: "I think that it is tremendously important for this campaign, as for all campaigns to communicate with the ever-growing and important Hispanic community in our country. I think also it's important the topic that he chose to highlight, which is him speaking during a debate, at the height of the primary, in New Hampshire, where it was absolutely crucial for the McCain campaign to win the primary. And in that ad, you will see Senator McCain's words as he speaks to the people of New Hampshire and really to the people of America, to that debate, certainly to the Republican primary voters, in which he proudly touts the contributions of Hispanics to our armed services. He highlights the contributions that many made with their lives for the freedom this country cherishes, in the different conflicts, the Vietnam War particularly. And then, he speaks about those who are today serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom are Hispanic.

"I think the ad wonderfully highlights what is really the straight story on McCain and immigration. Far from him running away from the issue in the primary, as it is falsely and shamelessly claimed, in fact, he stood tall during that time. I know that so very well because I distinctly remember this very debate and his very, very clear exposition of his point of view as he was under attack by his primary opponents, some of them, for his role in his immigration reform effort that he, and I, and Senator Kennedy, and others, tried to lead in the United States Senate. What is also important that we set the record straight on is, that not only is Senator McCain clear in what his purpose was during the immigration effort, he was at the genesis of it, he led the origins of this effort, which is why the Bill is called the McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill. He has been for comprehensive immigration reform. Senator McCain has valiantly fought the good fig ht, at the height of the primary, at whatever political risk it would bring.

"In addition to that, it is secondly important that we understand Senator Obama's role, at this very point in time. And, let me point out that the immigration bill was a fragile compromise that had been brought about by a group of us that worked on it day in and day out for weeks and weeks and weeks. The fact of the matter is that that compromise consisted of several key points that we had to stand tall on, and one of those key points was the guest worker program. When Senator Obama offered Amendment 1202, that would sunset the temporary worker program in five years, that was considered by us, who were putting this bill together, to be a poison pill. Fifty-five Senators rejected the poison pill that Senator Obama attempted to put on this bill. If that amendment had passed, that would have been the end of immigration reform. Senator Kennedy voted against Senator Obama and opposed that amendment and 55 other Senators joined in doing the same.

"Senator Obama didn't just stop there. But, then he went on to support the Dorgan Amendment, which was an Amendment to entirely kill the temporary worker program. Without a temporary worker program, there would have been no comprehensive immigration reform. The fact of the matter is that, when it counted, Senator Obama was not there, but he was playing to the special interests that, at that time, appeared to be who he needed to play to, to advance his own political interest. Today, he's playing to a different group, and he's singing a different song to continue to advance his political interest. In the meantime, what I think is terribly unfair, and I will not continue to stand idly by and allow to happen, is his continuing to trash Senator McCain's record on comprehensive immigration reform. Senator McCain was for it during the primary, he is for it now, and he will be for it when he is President.

"Senator McCain, just to conclude and then I will be glad to take questions, completely understands that in the Senate, to get something done, you have to be a realist. I also understand that in order to get something done you also have to understand that the borders have to be secure. Why did we fail in our efforts? Because not enough Americans believed that there was a seriousness of purpose in the federal government to secure the borders. And, until that was done, the unease about that would not allow there to be a consensus and a majority, which is how you get legislation done. But I know Senator McCain as President will support, will push and will sign a comprehensive immigration reform bill, just like he supported, in those days, when he was working with us in this effort, in a bipartisan fashion, with people like Senator Kennedy."

Listen To The Full Conference Call.

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