Presidential candidates, including Gov. Walker, say ‘birthright citizenship’ debate a distraction

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Scott Walker

TENNESSEE — A number of Republican presidential candidates wish the debate over birthright citizenship would go away. They say the proposal to end the automatic granting of citizenship to children of people in the U.S. illegally is a distraction from what the nation really needs to do to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says the proposal advanced by Donald Trump is merely an “applause line.”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said on Sunday, August 23rd any discussion that goes beyond the need to secure the border and enforce existing laws should be a “red flag” to voters that another politician is giving them “lip service.”

“My point is any discussion that goes beyond securing the border or enforcing the laws are things that should be a red flag to voters out there who for years have heard lip service from politicians and are understandably angry because those politicians haven’t been committed to following through on those promises,” Walker said.

The Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential candidate was asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether he backs Trump’s push to end the 14th Amendment’s mandate that all children born in the United States are automatically granted citizenship.

“Well, I said the law is there. And we need to enforce the laws, including those that are in the Constitution,” Walker said, adding that he favors addressing illegal immigration by improving border security and requiring businesses to use a system called E-Verify to check workers’ legal status.

Although he supports the goal, Ted Cruz says changing the Constitution would take years.

Governor Walker’s stance on immigration has changed over the last week.

On Monday, August 17th, at the Iowa State Fair, when asked by MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt whether birthright citizenship should be ended, he said then: “Yeah, absolutely, going forward.”

Walker cited Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid’s support for ending the policy. In the early 1990s, he introduced legislation that would have revoked the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship for U.S.-born children. Reid has since reversed that position.

“To me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country. And I’ve been very clear — I think you enforce the laws, and I think it’s important to send a message that we’re going to enforce the laws. No matter how people come here, we’re going to enforce the laws in this country,” Governor Walker said at the fair on Monday.

Then, on Friday, August 21st, Walker offered another stance — telling CNBC’s John Harwood that he won’t weigh in on birthright citizenship.

“I’m not taking a position on it one way or the other,” he said in that interview.

The changing answers come as Walker’s standing in polls — particularly in Iowa, which his campaign regards as crucial to his chances of winning the GOP nomination — has been hurt by the rise of Donald Trump and other outsider candidates, like retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina.

Walker has made an effort to play up his status as an outsider — a politician who came up through Milwaukee and Wisconsin politics, with no ties to Washington.

He has attempted to avoid confronting Trump directly, saying his own immigration views are “similar” and launching new broadsides at the Republican-led Congress in recent days.

Trump directly attacked Walker on Sunday during his own appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” citing Wisconsin’s budget woes.

“I’m honored that he wants to copy me and he’s a nice man. I gave him campaign contributions when he was running for governor. I like him very much,” Trump said. “But his state has not performed well. We need somebody that’s going to make it perform well, this country perform well.”

Given a chance to respond to Trump Sunday on “This Week,” Walker accused the real estate mogul of making the same arguments Democrats in Wisconsin have in recent years.

“Those are the same talking points the Democrats used. They didn’t work in the past. They’re not going to work now,” he said.

Then, Walker pivoted to a broader anger represented by Trump’s ascent to the top of national GOP polls.

“The one thing that I do want to clarify is I do think that there is some real frustration out there,” Walker said. “It’s why you not only see his numbers up, you see some of the other candidates who have not run for office before. They’re angry at Washington. Heck, I’m angry at Washington. I’m angry at my own — my own party leadership, who told us they were going to repeal Obamacare and we still don’t see a bill on the desk of the President. I think that’s where the real frustration is.”

Walker was set to make a campaign stop in Franklin, Tennessee on Sunday, August 23rd.

Governor Walker will wrap up his latest campaign push Monday, August 24th — with stops in North Carolina and South Carolina. Over the weekend, Walker was in Alabama and Tennessee. This Southern swing is a signal of his intent to compete to win in early states, SEC Primary states, and beyond, officials with Walker’s campaign say.


Gov. Scott Walker business tour

10:15 AM EDT

700 Sam Newell Road
Matthews, NC 28105

Gov. Scott Walker meet and greet

12:30 PM EDT

Sun City Carolina Lakes
5074 Grandview Drive
Fort Mill, SC 29707

Gov. Scott Walker meet and greet

3:30 PM EDT

Carolina Pregnancy Center
103 Metro Drive
Spartanburg, SC 29303

Gov. Scott Walker attends U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan’s 5th Annual Faith & Freedom BBQ

Event begins at 6:00 PM EDT
Remarks approximately 7:00 PM EDT

Anderson Civic Center
West Atrium
3027 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Anderson, SC 29625

Walker will then travel to Iowa this week for several stops in the Western region of the state.

Walker will board the campaign Winnebago and visit seven more Iowa counties on this trip as he pursues the “Full Grassley,” bringing his total to 25.


Gov. Scott Walker meet and greet

12:00 PM CDT

Cronk’s Cafe
812 4th Avenue South
Denison, IA 51442

Gov. Scott Walker campaign stop

2:00 PM CDT

Miller’s Kitchen
812 Iowa Avenue
Onawa, IA 51040

Gov. Scott Walker campaign stop

3:45 PM CDT

Penny’s Diner
128 Willow Road
Missouri Valley, IA 51555

Gov. Scott Walker meet and greet

5:30 PM CDT

Pizza Ranch
613 Court Street
Harlan, IA 51537

Gov. Scott Walker campaign stop

7:00 PM CDT

Darrell’s Place
4010 1st Street
Hamlin, IA 50117


Gov. Scott Walker meet and greet

8:15 AM CDT

The Corner Coffee Shop
284 Public Square
Greenfield, IA 50849

Gov. Scott Walker meet and greet

10:00 AM CDT

Prime Time
217 State Street
Guthrie Center, IA 50115


  • Shaun Blasier (@SaltyShaun)

    They should be able to talk about and attempt to fix the problems facing our Country if they want to be elected, ignoring it is not helping them. “Punting it forward” like Scott Walker wants to is not addressing problems, just like he did in Wisconsin.

    • hunter

      well shaun apparently you dont own property in wisconsin because you would then know about lower taxes! do you actually think we were better off with doyle ? maybe if you can comprehend what he is sayingis that if you stop them from coming across the border they will not be having children here to worry about that.there is no flip flopping here like fox 6 wants you to believe

  • ubiquitous king

    I own property here in Wisconsin @ Hunter, and I assure you that lower property taxes isn’t the solve all of Wisconsin issues. This emphasis on property tax is a distraction from the whole picture of what’s plaguing Wisconsin. The economic predictions of the current Governor were a flop, the use of a most inaccurate rate (unemployment rate) as a means to express growth is proof of the tactics of politicians on both sides to proliferate a mass state of ignorance so that so-called constituents can continue to equate success with concessions even though the economic atmosphere is more dismal then perceived.

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