White House surprised at GOP anger over speech

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“I can’t figure out who President Bush’s words were intended for, if not the conservative base of the party,” said Mrs. Schlafly, president of Eagle Forum.

As for Mr. Snow’s claim that there is no split in the party over immigration, Mrs. Schlafly said, “The majority of Republicans are very much opposed to the Senate bill and what the president wants. And the president certainly is not helping the Republican Party by attacking its base.”

However, the Senate bill has key conservative supporters, including Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, who echoed Mr. Bush’s position in a debate this week when he said that opposition to the immigration bill was “bad for America and … bad for the country.”

In an interview this week, Mr. Norquist said the immigration issue is not “a vote-moving issue” for Republicans.

“We need to constantly speak to what the country needs,” Mr. Norquist told The Washington Times.

“Mass deportations? People don’t want that. You should speak to the American people, not to radio talk-show hosts,” said Mr. Norquist, who said that the Senate bill’s opponents are “a handful of loud people who talk about it loudly.”

But some of the president’s strongest allies said confrontation with Republicans is not the way to go.

“This is an argument among the family,” said former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who supports the immigration bill and has long been a loyal Bush supporter, having run the president’s 2004 re-election campaign. “Let’s remember that the people on the other side are our friends, our allies, our ideological allies.

“Immigration is an issue that divides Republicans, divides friends, and when that happens, one of the most important things is to lower the rhetoric, have a discussion, but do it in such a way that is respectful, and recognizes that both sides have good reasons for their positions,” he said.

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