— From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
ON THE ROAD, IA – So what happened to Tom Tancredo's Iowa supporters after his 'big announcement' earlier this week?
know that the former-candidate threw his support behind Mitt Romney,
but on Friday Tancredo's Iowa state chairman Bill Salier announced that
he was supporting Fred Thompson. And while riding through Muscatine on
the Huckabus this week, Mike Huckabee was confronted by a very well
informed former Tancredo staffer who argued with the Iowa frontrunner
over the issue of immigration.
Deb Miller described herself as
"looking" for a candidate after her old boss dropped out of the race,
and she came to the afternoon rally at the Rendez Vous Banquet Hall
equipped with a stack of information compiled from Newsmax and
ImmigrationWatchdog.com to help her with her search.
from the papers in her lap, Miller asked Huckabee about a passage from
his book that described enforcing current immigration laws as "shear
folly" and about three incidents from his time governor that showed
questionable strength on combating illegal immigration.
Huckabee addressed her issues point by point, defending his immigration record as compassionate but firm. On giving welfare benefits to illegal aliens:
"The point was not, that I supported giving benefits, the deal was I opposed creating another law to do what the law already did," Huckabee said, on his battle against a state legislator to defeat a law that would have curtailed the distribution of welfare benefits in Arkansas. According to Huckabee, the fight was to prevent redundant legislation, not protect illegal immigrant rights.
On his conflict with Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding the raid of an Arkansas factory that employed illegal immigrants, Huckabee said that his issues surrounded ICE's failure to notify local authorities and to properly care for the children of the immigrants who were arrested.
"You should never allow a six month old, a three month old or a six year old to wonder where his mother and father are," Huckabee said. "Nothing can be more traumatic to a child and I don't care if that child is here illegally. I don't want to be a part of a country that would ignore the humane treatment of a child."
But despite Huckabee's best efforts – including a one-on-one conversation after his speech in which he asked her to take a second glance at his record – the generally undecided Miller was still unconvinced.
"The scripture says we're supposed to obey the laws of the land," Miller said. "As a Christian, that was my question. You know, how can you justify furthering – rewarding someone who has broken law upon law upon law."
Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul are the only candidates left in the race who truly address the immigration issue, Miller said, but "they don't have a chance," and so she is seriously considering following her old boss towards the Romney camp.
After it became clear that Miller was not going to be persuaded by Huckabee's stance on illegal immigration, the candidate made one last ditch effort for her vote, but couched it in his now infamous good humor: "I hope you'll take a look at our plan and vote for me before it's over, and if not, then stay home that night."