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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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June 2, 2008 2:42 PM

UPDATED: Republicans and babies

Posted by David Postman

When a politician says

I think the attention span of the public on party platforms is very brief,

you can be sure that there’s something in that platform the politician hopes voters will soon forget.

And in this case, the quote came from Attorney General Rob McKenna, whose Republican Party approved a platform that called for denying citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants to the United States.

This is not a new issue. Republicans caused an uproar when they approved a similar plank two years ago. Party insiders -- including McKenna, Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, and leaders of the party’s minority outreach groups -- said the move was sure to alienate important minority voters the party needed for statewide success.

In 2006, then-party Chairwoman Diane Tebelius was criticized for letting the party get sidetracked when convention delegates in Yakima engaged in a lengthy and divisive immigration debate and left voters with the distinct impression the party had veered right.

I haven’t heard any similar complaints about current Chairman Luke Esser since the weekend's convention in Spokane. That’s not because he has steered a more moderate course; it’s that he took the party into the same position on immigration but did it quietly.

The no-citizenship-for-babies plank was included in a proposed platform that was greased for approval at Saturday’s convention. No messy debate needed. No one had to explain during the convention, as McKenna told Andrew Garber, “We have more than 200 years of history in which children born in the U.S. are deemed U.S. citizens.”

UPDATE: At Crosscut, Clark Fredericksen explores how the state GOP platform is out of step with John McCain's campaign platform.

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