It's been three weeks since the GOP Presidential Hopefuls last debated in Orlando, Fla. After three debates in states with high illegal-alien populations, the Hopefuls square off tonight in New Hampshire, which will play a major role in determining who will be the GOP nominee.
The significance of tonight's debate is in the setting. New Hampshire has a semi-open primary so voters not affilitated with a political party can still vote. Instead of the Hopefuls targeting their statements in the confines of the Ronald Reagan Library or to the Tea Party Express in Tampa or to the social conservatives in Iowa, tonight's debate is set in the more liberal Northeast on an Ivy League campus in a state that will host the second primary of the nominating process.
What does that mean for immigration?
It means the Hopefuls will have to appeal to a broader political spectrum and will likely avoid the the "red meat" rhetoric on immigration that the hardcore conservatives crave and that we heard in the first four debates. If immigration is a topic for debate, we'll be looking to see if the field maintains their tough positions on illegal immigration that they have shared through the first four debates.
8:03 p.m. -- The debate is underway, but the moderator said questions will only be about jobs and the economy. Candidates could discuss legal immigration and how it impacts unemployed Americans, but since that connection hasn't come up during the first four debates, it's unlikely it will come up tonight.
8:33 p.m. -- The debate has gone to its first commercial break. Consistent with the disclaimer at the start, all the questions have dealt with the economy or jobs, but they are taking a broad approach. The Hopefuls just finished discussing housing and what government's role should be even though housing could be considered separate from the economy and jobs. So, there's still a chance immigration could be debated.
8:38 p.m. -- Gov. Perry was asked a question about a statement made by Reagan on tax increases in exchange for spending cuts. Gov. Perry responded by saying that after Reagan left office, he wrote in his diary that there were tax increases but he's still looking for the spending cuts. Ironically, Reagan was promised immigration enforcement in exchange for amnesty in 1986. Millions were granted amnesty, but were still waiting for the enforcement...
9:52 p.m. -- The debate ended without any discussion of immigration. Sadly, the Hopefuls fail to connect immigration to unemployment, but all they have to do is look at Chairman Smith's Legal Workforce Act that would move millions of illegal workers out of jobs, freeing them up for unemployed Americans.
Next week, the Hopefuls will debate in Las Vegas. Not only does Las Vegas have a huge illegal-alien population, but Nevada has the nation's highest unemployment rate at 13.4%. And while Nevada doesn't sit on the border with Mexico, it's certainly felt the impacts of Arizona's effort of enforcing our nation's immigration laws at the local level. It's almost a certainty that immigration will resurface next week.CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Tue, Oct 11th 2011 @ 10:00pm EDT