Peggy Noonan on Political Impact of Illegal Immigration

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," June 7, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: I have been really looking forward to a chat with this lady.

Well, forget the War on Terror and forget the economy. What if I told you illegal immigration will be the issue of the 2008 presidential election? Take a look at this. It is a straw poll out of Macomb County, Michigan. I hope I pronounced that right. Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo tops that list, beating well-known names like Giuliani and McCain.

There's no bigger hard-liner on illegals than Tancredo. And, just Monday, on this very show, he told he will do anything, even run for president, to keep the issue alive.


REP. TOM TANCREDO, R-COLO.: If, in fact, I need to do something like that, in order to force this issue to become the number one issue, or at least the number one or two issue in that presidential election, yes, I would do it.


CAVUTO: All right. So, will the immigration be the issue to own in '08?

With us now is Peggy Noonan, RNC adviser, former Reagan speechwriter, columnist, extraordinary writer, and a woman who says a third party could stand a shot.

Interesting, Peggy, very interesting. So, you think — could '08 be the year for that?


What I sense happening now is frustration among the normal people of America, who feel that the two parties in Washington, the Republicans and the Democrats, both entrenched in power for a long time, have become, in a way, too much alike, almost too collusive, and out of touch with the American people.

So, I — I think I sense correctly something bubbling out there that might come out in 2008, maybe 2012. But I think people want more options at the moment than what they have. You know, they look at...

CAVUTO: But, normally, a third party doesn't present that.

NOONAN: Doesn't present such an option?

CAVUTO: It doesn't happen. They start out, like you wrote in a very nicely written column, that Perot looked like that in 1992, and then he kind of nuts-ed out.

NOONAN: That's true.

CAVUTO: So, what — who are third-party potential candidates for you?

NOONAN: I don't know.

As I said in the piece you refer to, it is not that I see a specific person or a specific movement right now that I can tell, watch that. That's a rocket. That's going up.

What I simply sense is the desire...

CAVUTO: What about Tancredo?

NOONAN: ... for people — the desire on the part of people for greater options.

You know what Tancredo has going for him? In that little straw poll — you know, it's out there in Michigan. It's not a big straw poll, but, then, Tom Tancredo is not a universally famous name.

CAVUTO: That's right.

NOONAN: And he's not really that famous in America.

This is the one — the thing he has going for him is that he means it. He took a stand on immigration that he meant very sincerely years ago, when nobody else was saying what he said — what he was saying. He's tough.

CAVUTO: I think he's the Eugene McCarthy of the Republicans this go- round.

NOONAN: I don't know.

I — I really can't tell if he will seriously go forward and if he is seriously running for president. But I can tell you that his people would find him very attractive, because they know he means it.

CAVUTO: But would he be a niche candidate? The rap against third- party candidates is that they would be a niche candidate.

NOONAN: Sometimes.

One of the raps against third-party candidates is that there's always imagining there's too much — too much division between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, and a third party will bring us together.

Oddly enough, I think the Republicans and Democrats are pretty darn close in Washington. And a third party really shouldn't be bringing them — trying to bring the country together, so much as it should be standing for big and serious things.

CAVUTO: I ask you this, and I — I raise the possibility. They say that John McCain and Rudy Giuliani could never get the Republican Party nomination because of their stands on abortion or — or gay rights and all that, but — more respect to, I think, Giuliani in that case.


CAVUTO: But that, as third-party candidates, they would be breakout favorites. What do you think?

NOONAN: Maybe they would.

Each of them have a lot of following in America, but they might not necessarily have with parts — of a large enough part of the base of the Republican Party. I do think immigration is going to be a big issue. I'm not sure either of them has a very clearly stated or — or vivid approach to immigration.

CAVUTO: But you think immigration, even in '08, has legs as an issue?

NOONAN: Oh, I think so.

CAVUTO: Really?

NOONAN: Absolutely.

I think it will, as long as the border, the American border, has collapsed. Once that is repaired, once it is controlled, I think everybody will relax and say, OK, what do we do now? What do we do with those here illegally? What do we here? What do we about guest worker?

That will all be in play. But the first thing they have to do is control the border. They haven't done it yet. Until they do it...


NOONAN: ... it's a big issue.

CAVUTO: Peggy Noonan, always good seeing you again. Thank you very much.

NOONAN: Thank you.

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