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Would Chris Matthews Play "Hardball" On Illegal Immigration?
As the current Senate race between Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman and television personality Al Franken enters the final days of its recount, a 2010 marquee contest with the same dynamic is taking shape.
As has long been rumored, MSNBC's
Matthews plans to challenge the ancient, ineffective, sickly
and pro-open borders Specter. A Rasmussen poll released last
Tuesday showed a close race in a Specter-Matthews match-up.
Among likely voters, the split was 46 percent to 43 percent,
vs. Specter? Nobody's Sure Yet,
by Mackenzie Carpenter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans alike agree that Matthews could give Specter a tough battle.
Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell:
"Chris would be a formidable
candidate. He told me he's seriously considering it, and he
asked me for my advice and I told him that Arlen Specter is a
tough guy to beat in the general election." [Matthews
for Senate?, by Foon Rhee,
"I think Chris would be a
credible primary candidate under the right circumstances. Since
Chris would have no geographic base in the state, he would need
to have at least one primary opponent from each of the
Matthews is gambling that what he perceives as his local
Here's an oddity, though. In truth, throughout Pennsylvania Specter's name is better known than Matthews'. It's just that hearing "Specter" turns off an increasing number of voters. (Read my previous columns about Specter's plans for another term and his horrible Congressional record here and here.)
Matthews, however, isn't a novice.
But a sobering note for Matthews regarding celebrity candidacies: two years ago in the gubernatorial race, Ed Rendell crushed one of the state's most popular figures, Lynn Swann—a Pittsburgh Steeler Hall of Famer, four-time Super Bowl hero and a University of Southern California All-American.
To win, Matthews will have to be an informed, effective campaigner. And he would be. Unquestionably, Matthews knows the issues.
Specter's record offers Matthews multiple targets. The ones that interest us the most are:
Although this is not as big an issue in
"Twenty years ago, the Senate, the House and the president got together. They had a big signing ceremony and they said they were going to stop illegal immigration into this country. It was a joke, nothing happened.
"Illegal immigration continued even faster than before. Why should we trust the government to enforce the borders, to enforce our immigration laws now?"
Jobs (as they relate to immigration)
Again, immigration and its impact on employment is a subject that Matthews' has thought through and grasps.
"What happened to the market though, Senator? We believe in the free market, you do too I assume. If a sheet rock guy who is putting up plaster is making five bucks an hour, you'll have fewer workers available. You give this guy $10 or $15 an hour, you'll find a lot more people preparing and teaching themselves out of high school, dropouts, whatever, to learn how to do sheet rock, carpentry, learn how to paint.
"People will go to a job if it pays a living wage. Right now these jobs are barely paying a living wage, so it's the immigrant worker who is available. Why don't we just raise salaries for people so you get the guys who are unemployed in this country to work?"
And in response to
"Those guys also want cheap labor."
Not only is Specter (purposely) obtuse about the negative impact of open borders on American wages, he has the worst voting record of anyone in Congress on the crucial issue of more visas for foreign-born workers.
Working along side Ted Kennedy, one of the Senate's most liberal Democrats, Specter devised the sale for $500 each to major American corporations of hundreds of thousands of additional work visas and permanent green cards to hire foreign workers for high-tech and professional jobs in the U.S. for periods of between three and six years.
Specter may not be wise to immigration patriots' archenemy, Senator Edward Kennedy. But Matthews is. He once remarked: "We just had Ted Kennedy here. He's a liberal. He's a Democrat. He has a very pro-immigration position. Maybe pro-illegal immigration. I'll go that far."
But if Franken survived all his dubious taped statements, so can Matthews.
In fact, Specter is so weak a candidate that he might not survive the Republican primary. In 2004, he barely survived a vigorous challenge from a good anti-illegal alien candidate. Congressman Pat Toomey.
Over the past six years moderate Republicans, especially in the
eastern part of
The next move is up to Matthews.
His contract with MSNBC expires in June 2009. But negotiations are in progress as I file my column.
What's unclear is whether the current talks are to renew his contract ahead of schedule—as the network did with the thuggish Keith Olbermann last month—or to break it, so Matthews can begin his campaign.
If Matthews plans to stay in television, negotiating now is advantageous since his ratings are high because of the endless 2008 presidential race and the intense interest it generated.
Indeed, some view the Matthews' senate rumor as a leverage ploy to increase his value to the network.
From the immigration patriot perspective, the goal is to get rid of Specter. If that's Matthews'—obviously savvy about immigration—great.
Whether Matthews, if elected, would really take up the cause is uncertain. But since Specter has a D- grade on immigration, any change will be an improvement.
If there's another candidate yet to emerge, that's okay too. Bottom line: we can't do any worse than Specter.Joe [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.