The Magazine

Tancredo's Credo

One-note Tom.

Mar 12, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 25 • By DAVID HARSANYI
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Obviously Tancredo, a self-styled outsider, doesn't feel constricted by traditional political alliances. This is the man who claims Karl Rove told him to never "darken the door of the White House" after he criticized the president's immigration policy. (Sometimes I wonder if this drama was based on a true story--as it fits a little too neatly into Tancredo's opportunistic narrative.) In any event, opposing the president doesn't exactly merit a profile in courage these days.

"It's not a secret that I have burned a lot of bridges here," Tancredo once said about his time in Washington. "My ability to get anything done around here is based around my ability to make this into a national issue. My megaphone is pointed at the ear of America." Will his megaphone make a difference this primary race? And if he fails to accomplish his goal, will Tancredo opt to become a third-party candidate, with the potential to siphon pivotal votes in states like Iowa and Colorado?

Does Tancredo have the national support and monetary muscle to become a political spoiler in the mold of Ross Perot or Ralph Nader?

T.Q. Houlton, a spokesman for the Tancredo for a Secure America Exploratory Committee, claimed, "We've had no intention to run as a third-party candidate, ever, and we'll never consider that because he's a Republican, period." So there is no reason to doubt Tancredo will remain under the Republican tent--though some Coloradans might recall the congressman, after championing term-limits in his home state, broke that pledge.

Tancredo recently handed over the chairmanship of the Congres sional Immigration Reform Caucus--a group he has led since his first term in the House, and which has grown from 16 members to over 100--to Rep. Brian Bilbray of California. It was seen as another sign that Tancredo is focused on making some hay.

But we all know Tancredo's serious. What we don't know is if it will matter.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at the Denver Post and author of the forthcoming Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children (Doubleday/Broadway).