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Obama agenda: By the numbers

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), one of the eight senators pursuing a bipartisan immigration-reform plan, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today that he believes the GOP will get behind this, in part, because of sheer numbers. You can see the "descent toward irrelevancy" if the party doesn’t get behind it, McCain said.

Those numbers, apparent to most political observers, including your First Read team, before the election, became obvious even for Republicans after it. President Obama won a whopping 71%-27% of Latinos over Mitt Romney, according to exit polls. That represented an even wider gap than in 2008 when Obama defeated McCain with the group 67%-31%.

Latinos, among the fastest-growing minority groups in the country, made up 10% of the electorate in 2012. That was up from 9% in 2008 -- despite indications in polling that enthusiasm among Hispanics had dipped from 2008. Even that 10%, however, underperformed the number of Latinos in the U.S. According to the Census, Hispanics make up 17% of the country.

In Nevada, Obama also won 71% of Latinos. And they made up nearly one-in-five voters (19%). But that also underperformed the statewide Hispanic population, which is more than one-in-four, or 27%, according to the Census. Translation: Latino influence will only grow in coming elections, and if Republicans can’t get more than 27% of them, it will make for an uphill climb to win nationally and become harder to win in states with significant and growing Hispanic populations like Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, even Texas, Florida, and potentially Georgia and Virginia, not to mention California.

The Las Vegas Review Journal: “Obama to back Senate immigration effort in Las Vegas on Tuesday.”

But the Washington Post writes: “The Obama administration has developed its own proposals for immigration reform that are more liberal than a separate bipartisan effort in the Senate, including a quicker path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, people with knowledge of the proposals said.”

The AP: “Administration officials said Obama would largely endorse the senators’ efforts, though immigration advocates said they expected the president’s own proposals to be more progressive than the Senate group’s plan, including a faster pathway to citizenship.”

Jay Carney yesterday on the Senate plan: “This is an important first step that we’ve seen from Congress,” Carney said. “The goal here is not for everyone just to get together and say we share common principles but to achieve legislation that gets the job done.”

From the Review-Journal: “Obama administration officials said the president will endorse the Senate effort during his Las Vegas speech at 11:55 a.m. [2:55 pm ET] today at Del Sol High School, a troubled school with a heavy Hispanic student body. Obama will outline his own immigration reform blueprint, a version of which he first released in 2011. More than 20 labor leaders from across the country will join Obama at the Las Vegas event, from the AFL-CIO to the Service Employees International Union, including Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina.”

The Las Vegas Sun: President Barack Obama will kick off his public push for immigration reform with a visit to Las Vegas today. But as he hits the road to deliver his argument to voters outside the Beltway, the center of the immigration debate appears to be settling squarely in Washington… The announcement of a bipartisan framework puts new momentum and urgency behind the drive toward comprehensive immigration reform, which the president planned to spearhead with his own plan in Las Vegas. But it also is a stark reminder of where this has gone wrong before — and why, in 2013, things need to be different if Obama wants to cement immigration reform as part of his legacy.”

Speaking of where it’s gone wrong before, one obstacle to overcome is the lack of trust between Obama and Republicans. Politico: “John McCain and Marco Rubio weren’t going to follow President Barack Obama’s lead. When the White House announced that Obama would open a campaign for immigration reform with an event in Las Vegas Tuesday, the Republican senators and their bipartisan working group decided to rush out their plan ahead of him on Monday, according to sources familiar with the effort.”

After all, there’s a lot of bad blood on the issue. Here was Obama in El Paso in May 2011, including him joking about Republicans wanting to build a moat and then put “alligators in the moat.” "We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. But even though we've answered these concerns, I suspect there will be those who will try to move the goal posts one more time. They'll say we need to triple the border patrol. Or quadruple the border patrol. They'll say we need a higher fence to support reform. Maybe they'll say we need a moat. Or alligators in the moat. They'll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That's politics."

In response, Herman Cain in Iowa called for “electrified barbed wire at the top” of a fence. “And on this side of it, it would have a moat … and yes, Mr. President it would have alligators in it.”

President Obama continued in El Paso, slamming Congress: “Everyone recognizes the system is broken. The question is, will we summon the political will to do something about it? … “The question is whether those in Congress who previously walked away in the name of enforcement are now ready to come back to the table and finish the work we’ve started. We have to put the politics aside. And if we do, I’m confident we can find common ground. Washington is behind the country on this. … [T]there is a consensus around fixing what’s broken. Now we need Congress to catch up to a train that’s leaving the station.”

Roll Call: “President Barack Obama will flesh out his 2011 immigration reform blueprint Tuesday in Nevada, but he will not release a bill of his own. Though the White House has been drafting legislative language for four years, administration officials said Monday that the president would not put forward a plan with that much specificity at this point.”

Here was Obama’s “blueprint” laid out in El Paso as well as at American University in July 2010:

- The U.S. can’t grant blanket amnesty. But it also can’t just round up 11 million people and deport them.
- More accountability from government, businesses, and individuals.
- Improved border security – although he touted the border’s the most secure it’s ever been. And that the border is too vast to solve the problem simply with fences and border patrols alone.
- Better employee-verification system.
- Individuals must admit they broke the law, register and pay taxes, pay a fine, learn English and get in line. At the same time, the government needed to streamline the immigration process, which has seen a tremendous backlog.
- Farms need a legal way to hire workers; create pathway for those workers to become legal.
- Any immigration reform needed to include the DREAM Act.