With the crisis over President Donald Trump’s new policy to separate undocumented children from their parents at the border and house the children in internment-camp like facilities dominating the headlines, last night Republican candidates for governor of Colorado held their final debate before next Tuesday’s primary election. The issue of family separations naturally came up, and as Denver7’s Blair Miller reports, most of the responses were…disheartening:
The first question the candidates were asked was if they support the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border. If not, what would they do about it, they are asked?
Victor Mitchell said President Trump was “on the right track” to comprehensive immigration reform but said that the family separation was a “sad outcome.”
Greg Lopez said he “truly believes separating kids from their parents is something we don’t ever want to see.” But he said that parents are putting their children in harm’s way by bringing them to the border knowing they’ll be separated. “I support the fact that we’re following the rule of law,” he said. But he said they should be given the opportunity to understand they could come back legally.
The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul had frontrunner Walker Stapleton’s typically evasive answer:
Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton did not denounce the president’s action. “The last thing anyone wants to see is families broken up,” he said while blaming federal lawmakers for the problem.
Of the four Republicans running for governor, only one had the courage to say what every person with a conscience should have no problem saying loud and clear–Doug Robinson, who our readers know better as Mitt Romney’s Nephew, via Denver7:
Doug Robinson said he doesn’t support Trump’s policy. “This is not who we are as Americans. It’s not who we are as Republicans,” he said. [Pols emphasis] He said that families should be allowed to stay together and the criminal process should be expedited. Robinson said he believes Hickenlooper’s executive order was “political.”
Walker Stapleton said that the “last thing” anybody wants is to see families broken up. But he said he agrees with Trump’s actions. [Pols emphasis] He called for comprehensive immigration reform and said Congress needed to fix the policy.
Robinson is of course not expected to win next Tuesday’s primary, which may have relieved him of the obligation to follow the party line on this issue. And that’s a critical point: even though many Republicans in Washington have at least rhetorically turned against the Trump administration’s child separation policy, the only segment of the American public who supports what is happening here according to polls are base Republican voters. And those are exactly the voters these Republican primary candidates are competing for.
The Republican base has been so heavily radicalized in recent years that a policy like family separations, roundly condemned and seemingly at odds with fundamental American values has a haven of majority support within that party. While federal Republican officeholders blanch at the horrific video coming from the border camps, the Republican base revels in it. And Republican candidates are forced to embrace utterly toxic situations like the present humanitarian crisis on the border–or risk alienating the voters who decide Republican primaries. The winner is then left to explain themselves to a horrified general electorate.
All we can say is good for Mitt Romney’s Nephew–and God help the rest of them come November.