Is Bush 'Out of Touch' With GOP On Immigration?

One week after the President was met with dead silence at the Republican Party’s biggest annual fund-raising dinner when he mentioned his position on immigration, the question is being asked increasingly in GOP circles: Is George W. Bush out of touch with his party’s grass-roots mainstream on immigration when he calls for a guest worker program and the GOP wants border security?

"There was no applause whatsoever, and an awkward silence, in the five minutes [Bush] talked about immigration," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R.-Calif.) told me on the day after the "President’s Dinner" at the Washington DC convention center June 19th. "This showed how out of touch he was with the Republican Party on this issue." Another guest at the dinner (which raised an estimated $25 million for the GOP’s election-year coffers), Colin Hanna agreed. "The polite silence from the strong supporters of the President demonstrated he’s out of touch with the grass-roots on this issue," said Hanna, head of the Pennsylvania-based "Let Freedom Ring, Inc."

When I discussed the issue with House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.) and mentioned the sharp differences between the immigration bill passed by the House and the Senate version (which the Administration favored), he told me: "We’re in no hurry to go to conference. This is an important issue and we need to produce the right results. In July and August, we’re going to look carefully at the Senate bill and the problem of illegal immigration itself."

At the White House press briefing this morning, I quoted Rohrabacher’s comments on the President’s remarks at the June 19th event and asked Press Secretary Tony Snow for his response.  "A) I wasn’t there and B) Congressman Rohrbacher has well-known views on this issue,” replied the President’s top spokesman. "