Boxing great Muhammad Ali once predicted he could avoid being hit in a fight by floating like a butterfly, and Greg Abbott displayed that same skill today while talking to CBS newsman Bob Schieffer about the Republican presidential nominating process and illegal immigration.
The Texas governor showed a skillful dodge when the Texas-born host of Face the Nation asked him about the prospects that Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry will seek the Republican presidential nomination. Will they all run, Schieffer asked.
“I would not be surprised if they all run,” Abbott replied. “If I can expand on that, the Texas connection, Carly Fiorina was born in Austin, Texas, as you were. We also have Rand Paul, who is a Texas native. So the odds favor the next president, at least the Republican nominee, is going to have a Texas connection.”
That list also might include Democrat Hillary Clinton, who along with her husband, worked as a field coordinator in Texas for the 1972 George McGovern campaign for president.
Schieffer seemed amused by the geography lesson, but he wasn’t going to let it stop there. He asked Abbott whether he was ready to pick a horse in the race.
“What I’m looking for is to ensure, for one, that we have a nominee who is committed, to what I have most committed to and that is someone who is going to follow the Constitution and apply the Constitution,” Abbott said. “Second, someone who is going to step up and do what the American people are demanding, and that is secure our border.”
Does that mean he’s not ready to publicly name a candidate yet? Abbott said, “I am looking for the best candidate who can ensure that a conservative agenda is going to be achieved for America.”
The governor also proved himself equal to the task of side-stepping the really difficult issue of what should be done with undocumented immigrants who already live in the United States. Schieffer noted that there are about 800,000 living in Texas. “What are you going to do with them. You don’t have enough buses to send them back to Mexico, and I don’t suspect you can put them all in jail.”
Abbott said the president has the responsibility to enforce immigration laws and what to do with those already living here is a question for Congress. “The president himself said, as these people were coming across the border, that he would repatriate them as soon as possible. So we need to see whether or not the president himself is going to live up to the commitment that he made. The second thing is what to do with those who are here, by the Constitution itself, is dedicated to the United States Congress, not the president to decide how to deal with it. So we need Congress to have the latitude to fulfill its responsibility to solve the problem.”
Schieffer noted that Congress has been unable to come up with a solution. Arguably, the last time Congress took a serious look at the issue was when President George W. Bush’s proposed immigration reform died in 2006. Abbott fell back onto the plan he announced in his State of the State address last week to fund 500 new Texas Rangers and officers for the Department of Public Safety to secure the border.
“We are coming out of our own pocket, Texas taxpayers’ pocket, to secure the border, doing the job the federal government must do. The first step that must be taken in this process is to secure the border,” Abbott said.
But like a butterfly, he floated away from even making a suggestion to Congress about how to handle those already in the country.
(Photo courtesy CBS News/Face the Nation)