Mitt Romney's Arizona Problem: Randy Pullen vs. Shane Wikfors (and Maybe Tom Morrissey)
Wikfors on Sunday Square Off, sparking a firestorm
Mitt Romney may be attempting a shift to the center on immigration, but word has yet to trickle down to the hardcore nativists of the Arizona Republican Party.
As the GOP presidential hopeful was in Florida yesterday trying to woo the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials with his softer, gentler, made-for-the-general-election immigration stance, a civil war of sorts erupted in local Republican ranks over statements made by conservative-blogger-turned-state-GOP-spokesman Shane Wikfors during a recent appearance on Channel 12's Sunday Square Off.
Here's what I wrote in my column this week regarding Wikfors' comments:
One moment of Republican clarity came during a discussion of the president's DREAM Act order on the Channel 12 news show Sunday Square Off. Asked his opinion on the decision, state GOP spokesman and conservative blogger Shane Wikfors gave a shockingly sane response.
"This is a conversation that's not going to go away anytime soon," he said. "And it's a conversation the Republican Party has got to have at our national convention at Tampa in August.
"I think this party needs to re-evaluate its position on how we deal with people [who] are part of us, part of our community," he added.
Wikfors noted that what he said "went against the grain," but he averred that state party Chairman Tom Morrissey was of the same mind.
Another panelist wondered whether Pearce, the state party's first vice chair, would agree with him.
"I think he would, to a large degree," Wikfors said.
Sadly, that sort of generosity of spirit was not evident in the remarks of Pearce or Brewer. Still, Wikfors deserves props for simply saying what a lot of Arizona Republicans believe but have been too cowed by a nasty GOP strain of ethnic McCarthyism to voice.
I should have started a stopwatch on how long it would take the GOP's brown bashers to pull out the long knives and go to work on Wikfors.
Below is an e-mail blast that committed nativist and former state GOP chair Randy Pullen sent out to the AZ GOP executive committee Thursday: