Mike Pence schooled by David Gregory on national television

On Sunday’s Meet the Press, host David Gregory interrupted Rep. Mike Pence’s rant about immigration to point out that it was Republicans who killed immigration reform in 2007. Seriously, how inane do your talking points have to be for Dancing Dave to knock you down?

Watch – the video gets good at about 1:40 (partial transcript below the cut):

(Unfortunately, this video cuts off Pence’s response. For a differently-edited clip, see the Crooks & Liars piece, “David Gregory Points Out Mike Pence’s Hypocrisy on Border Security”)

I’ve been very critical of Gregory since he took over Meet the Press – for example, I’ve knocked his refusal to fact-check guests, his obsession with polls and ignorance of policy, and his lack of any accountability for the flaws of his show – but this was decent journalism. Gregory was armed with the facts, and Pence had only his talking points.

Senate Republicans killed this bill. And they weren’t alone – a certain Hoosier Congressman named Mike Pence wrote a special comment for the Washington Times about why he opposed the “amnesty bill”:

I opposed the Senate immigration bill because of its core fallacy that millions of illegal immigrants could get right with the law without having to leave the country. For most Americans, and me, that is amnesty and I cannot support it. (Washington Times, June 10, 2007, page B3 – via Lexis search)

And even if the bill had gone through the Senate, Hoosier Republican Mark Souder was there to stop it in the House:

Mark Souder, the top Republican on the House sub-committee on border security, yesterday warned that the legislation would be "dead on arrival" in the House. (Financial Times, June 27, 2007, page 12 – via Lexis search)

But Gregory didn’t go far enough in debunking Pence’s tired talking points.

In both clips, Pence throws out a lot of numbers about “enforcement budgets”. But those numbers aren’t about enforcement or fences, they’re about the failed “virtual fence”. Media Matters debunked this a few days back, citing tons of statistics about the costs overruns and failed tests by this specific project.

Finally, Pence asserts that, “Phoenix, Arizona, is, is the kidnapping capital of the United State of America.” He neglects to point out, as Phoenix police do, that the victims of these kidnappings are almost always drug dealers or other crime figures. And, contrary to what Rep. Pence implies here, “ICE says the spike [in kidnappings] stems from tighter enforcement on the porous Arizona-Mexico border in recent years.”

Partial transcript, via Crooks and Liars:

GREGORY: But this is an interesting point because, Congressman Pence, the president came out and said, you know, there was some debate about whether immigration would be an agenda item that he would push before energy legislation. He said this week there simply aren’t the votes for it, particularly from Republicans.

PENCE: Well, well, let, let’s be clear for a second. This is no laughing matter for the people of Arizona who are–have been profoundly affected by the fact that there’s nearly a half a million illegal immigrants and, and a rampant drug trade and, and, and human trafficking trade that’s been besetting. Phoenix, Arizona, is, is the kidnapping capital of the United State of America. I don’t know if this law is perfect, but I knew–do know that it is wrong for officials in this government to throw stones at the people of Arizona as they’re trying to, to reassert the rule of law in the wake of the fact that this administration and this Congress have been systematically cutting funding to border security since the Democrats took control.

GREGORY: Of course, it was Republicans who blocked comprehensive immigration reform. Let’s be clear about that.

PENCE: Well, let–well, let, let’s focus on border security first, David.


PENCE: In, in fiscal…

GREGORY: The bill called for that. The Bush bill called for more border security, Republicans were with him…

PENCE: Right.

GREGORY: …until they were against him on that.