Tennessee senator Lamar Alexander is making his final pitch to primary voters with a radio ad in which the two-term Republican claims he has voted to "end amnesty" for illegal immigrants. Alexander has been hit hard on the issue of immigration by his chief GOP challenger, state representative Joe Carr, ahead of Thursday's primary.
"In the last few days of a campaign, don't believe anything new that you hear," Alexander says in the ad. "Last year, I voted to end amnesty. Last week I voted against President Obama's immigration bill." Listen to the ad below:
Is it true that Alexander voted to "end amnesty" last year? That's certainly been the argument from Alexander and other Republican supporters of the Senate's 2013 "Gang of 8" immigration bill, specifically that the current regime is "de facto amnesty." Asked to defend his vote for the Gang of 8 bill, Alexander told THE WEEKLY STANDARD last month that "by doing nothing, you perpetuate amnesty for 11 million people who are here illegally."
Border hawks dispute the idea that comprehensive immigration reform would end amnesty, that in fact a bill written to include some border enforcement mechanisms while offering current illegal immigrants residing in the country before the end of 2011 a pathway to citizenship.
What about Alexander's claim that he voted against "Obama's immigration bill" last week? It's true that the Senate held a vote last week over a supplemental request from the president to address the current border crisis, and that Alexander was one of the votes against cloture on that request. But it all depends on what you consider "Obama's immigration bill", and the ad seems to elide the distinction between the supplemental request bill and the 2013 Gang of 8 bill, which President Obama supports and for which Alexander voted.
Republicans in Tennessee head to the polls Thursday, though as many as half of all primary voters may have already done so through early voting.