It was fun while it lasted.
Tom Tancredo just made official what had been rumored for 24 hours: He's pulling out of the Republican presidential race. Although he never really had a chance of reaching the White House, Tancredo's already won: He made immigration a focal point of the campaign.
The man who was warned by Karl Rove never to darken the door of the White House succeeded in making President Bush pay attention to an issue he'd rather ignore. Ditto for the other Republicans running for president: At the CNN debate earlier this month, Tancredo noted that on the immigration front, the other candidates Republicans were beginning to "out-Tancredo Tancredo."
But there's one way those candidates will never match Tancredo: in unvarnished honesty. Colorado's sixth congressional district congressman is renowned for making heartfelt, if unpopular declarations -- and let the chips, and political strategists, fall where they may.
This afternoon, Tancredo released the following:
It is with my heart full of gratitude and a touch of sadness that I write today to tell you of my intention to end my campaign for the presidency.
As a loyal friend and supporter it is important to me that you understand why I am doing this, even though you may disagree.
For the past ten years I have dedicated my public life to the critical issue of illegal immigration. I believed then –as I do now—that massive uncontrolled illegal immigration threatens our survival as a nation. I could not stand by and let open border politicians and corporate lobbyists sell our country out to the highest bidder.
Then earlier this year when I feared that the issue would not be championed by any of the top candidates I threw my hat in the ring. It was the only way I could be certain that the candidates would be forced to take a stand.
Thanks to your incredible support look what we have accomplished:
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Just last week Newsweek declared that “"Anti-immigrant zealot [that would be me] had already won. Now even Dems dance to his no mas salsa tune.” This month alone The Economist, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal and a score of other newspapers have written similar assessments, grudgingly crediting our campaign with forcing the issue of immigration to the center of the national stage and—more importantly—with forcing every presidential candidate to commit themselves to an immigration plan that calls for securing the borders, opposing amnesty and enforcing the law.
Of course, many of the candidates need to be pinned down on their understanding of the meaning of amnesty, but we have succeeded beyond my most optimistic expectations of a year ago. We even have Hillary jumping through hoops on the issue!
So with so much success why drop out of the race now, you are probably asking. For one reason and one reason alone: I believe the cause demands I do so.
The presidential campaign has come down to less than a handful of viable candidates. Unfortunately several of them have abysmal records on immigration and can’t be trusted to do what is needed to preserve this country if they’re elected. My fear is that if I were to stay in this race my votes could be the factor in handing victory to a pro-amnesty politician. Friends, we have done too much, come too far and the stakes are too high to play that hand. And so I am ending my presidential campaign.
I know there are many more battles in our future and you can count on me to stay in this fight with you. We must continue to build the unquestioned momentum that is fueling our movement today. In the weeks ahead, I will write to you again to share with you my plans for the future, and for the immigration reform movement that is transforming American politics.
But for now, I just wish to again express to you my deepest thanks and appreciation for your partnership with me in this historic effort. I also want to wish you a very blessed and merry Christmas!
We have come so far together, and through our efforts we have made a stunning and, I believe, permanent impact on the debate over securing our borders and preserving our nation.
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Not a day has gone by in this campaign that I have not thanked God for the dedication of so many Americans like you. I can promise you that as long as He gives me life and strength, I will work hard for our cause and to honor the trust you have placed in me.
With sincere best wishes, Tom Tancredo
I don't agree with much that Tom Tancredo says -- and I had an opportunity to hear a lot of it when he and I were both regulars on Colorado Inside Out, the Channel 12 show. But I admire the fact that he's always been willing to stick by his guns. And cigars.
If only the other candidates would do the same. -- Patricia Calhoun