- 9 Oct 06, 09:32 PM
If the main consequence of the Foley furore is to drain the energy from the Republicans' socially conservative Republican base and increase the number of what the influential conservative strategist, Paul Weyrich, has called "embarrassed Republicans", the party may be casting around for other issues to get the voters to the polls.
Could illegal immigration play that role? It was about eighteen months ago that a man called Tim Donnelly predicted it would - as we stood together on Arizona's border with Mexico. He is - or, at least, was a "minuteman" one of those private citizens (dubbed "vigilantes" by President Bush, much to their anger), who decided to take border protection into their own hands.
He was convinced that the swelling numbers of illegal immigrants would swell the ranks of Republican voters this November. I remember his parting words. "Immigration", he said in a confident tone, "will be the next abortion." Idle talk - or reality?
Judging from a few recent trips to different states, the issue is resonating far more loudly across the country, than the amount of national media coverage being given to it would suggest. By derailing the president's call for a comprehensive immigration bill - and, instead, pushing through new border fence legislation - House Republicans essentially won the pre-election argument. But will that be enough for them to win the election?
Jamie Coomarasamy is a Washington correspondent for BBC News.
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