While stumping on Wednesday for Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker and Republican Senate candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush got a taste of the bitter divide between moderates and hardline conservatives within the GOP, the New York Times
Tillis, who is challenging North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan in a tight race, "gently" distanced himself from Bush's remarks on immigration reform and national education standards, according to the Times.
Tillis made it clear that citizenship should not be given to people who came to the United States illegally.
"You have to make it clear that amnesty shouldn't be on the table," he said. "That doesn't negate any opportunity to provide some with legal status and other things, but you only do that after you seal the borders and you make the problem no longer grow."
Bush set off a firestorm earlier this year when he said that people who enter the country illegally to reunite with family or find work opportunities to provide for their families, do so as an "act of love" and should not be treated as criminals.
"Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony," Bush said in April, according to CNN
, "It's an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that is a different kind of crime, that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families. I think we need to kind of get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place."
He told a group of North Carolina business owners that failing to address the broken immigration system has harmed the country economically. Americans need to consider that changing the current policy would have a positive economic impact on the entire country, said Bush, who supports amnesty for some illegal immigrants.
"Fixing a system that doesn't work is a big thing that I think will restore and sustain economic growth for this country," he said. "If it was framed in that way, I don't think there's a big debate in the Republican Party about the need to do this and my hope is with a Republican-controlled Senate, we can begin to see a conversation about how to go about doing that."
Bush did not directly address Tillis' critical commentary about the Common Core national K-12 education standards, a hot-button issue for the conservative faction of the Republican Party, according to the Times.
"I'm not willing to settle just for a national standard if we think we can find things to set a new standard and a best practice," Tillis said.
The Common Core standards were developed by a group of bipartisan governors and the North Carolina House approved the standards in 2011, according to the Times. During a hard-fought primary filled with staunch conservatives, Tillis has distanced himself from the standards.
Common Core is one of Bush's signature issues. He avoided a direct confrontation about it.
"We can argue about what to call these things," Bush replied, but said that "the focus ought to be on ensuring high standards," according to the Times.
Immigration reform and Common Core "illustrate the rightward drift of the Republican Party since President [George W.] Bush left the White House, and the pressure current candidates feel to respond to the more conservative party base," according to Times political writer Jonathan Martin.
Bush has said he will make a decision by the end of the year about whether to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016. The popular governor would be faced with doing a great deal of "rhetorical footwork" to appease both moderates and the conservatives within the GOP, according to the Times.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.