From NBC's Domenico Montanaro and Mark Murray
John McCain, who once led the charge for comprehensive immigration reform, is up with an immigration ad a hardliner would be proud of.
The ad opens with McCain, in signature Navy hat, walking with Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County. McCain says, "Drug and human smugglings, home invasions, murder." Babeu responds: "We're outmanned. Of all the illegals in America, more than half come through Arizona.
McCain asks, "Have we got the right plan?" referring to a "McCain/Kyl Border Security Action Plan" that flashes on the screen.
Babeu: "Plan's perfect. You bring troops, state and local law enforcement together."
McCain: "And complete the danged fence."
And then this from Babeu: "It'll work this time. Senator, you're one of us."
(Then McCain stares into the camera in a freeze frame for five seconds.)
That's McCain now. This was McCain then:
From a March 30, 2006 statement:
"There are over 11 million people in this country illegally. They harvest our crops, tend our gardens, work in our restaurants, care for our children, clean our homes. They came as others before them came, to grasp the lowest rung of the American ladder of opportunity, to work the jobs others won't, and by virtue of their own industry and desire, to rise and build better lives for their families and a better America. That is our history, Mr. President. We are not a tribe. We are not an ethnic conclave. We are a nation of immigrants, and that distinction has been essential to our greatness."
From a Jan. 3, 2004 New York Times op-ed:
"A simple crackdown aimed at sending all illegal immigrants back to where they came from would not work. It would simply drive people without proper documentation deeper into the shadows, where they would continue to be at the mercy of unscrupulous employers and would be afraid to report crimes, send their children to school or seek treatment when they had infectious diseases."
Of course, McCain is in a tough re-election fight, facing a challenge from the right from former Congressman and radio host J.D. Hayworth. The primary is a long way away -- August.