ORLANDO, Fla. — One of the few Members of Florida’s Republican U.S. House delegation who is neutral in the presidential primary Tuesday took some time to discuss the heated GOP race, the fall campaign, and the issue of illegal immigration with HUMAN EVENTS.
Freshman Rep. Dan Webster is a much-loved conservative in the Sunshine State since he became the first Republican speaker of the state House of Representatives in 1994. Two years ago, Webster’s reputation among conservatives nationwide was enhanced when he unseated Rep. Alan Grayson, by far one of the most outspoken liberal Democrats in Congress.
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Courted by presidential hopefuls for his blessing, Orlando-area Rep. Webster steadfastly remains “publicly neutral,” but explained that this does not mean he won’t have a choice when he goes into the voting booth January 31.
Like many conservatives in Florida, Webster voiced concern about the increasingly shrill tone the presidential primary has taken among the Republican hopefuls. He noted that there is one person that criticism and disagreement should be focused on “and that’s Barack Obama,” who, he said, has a very different agenda for America than any of the Republicans.
We mentioned one issue that has divided Republicans and it is particularly come to the surface in Florida: illegal immigration. Could Republicans come together on this, even though some may differ over related subjects such as the DREAM Act (to provide college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants). Webster believes that differences on points of the issue aside, Republicans will present a sharp contrast to the position of President Obama, who, in his words, “has a ‘dream’ of his own and that’s a dream that all people regardless of their legal status come into the United States and get full benefits that citizens do.” He emphasized that Obama “is very clear about this” and it shouldn’t be difficult for the eventual Republican nominee to draw a contrast with the Democratic president.
For all the invective and charges that fly like shrapnel in the GOP contest, Webster made it clear to HUMAN EVENTS he feels the party can come together, focus on differences with Obama, and put Florida’s electoral votes in the Republican column in the fall.