John McCain Border Shift: 'Complete Danged Fence'

In new Ariz. senate race ad, McCain supports border barrier he once criticized.

ByABC News
May 11, 2010, 1:26 PM

May 11, 2010— -- Sen. John McCain has released a tough-talking television ad that blames illegal immigrants for "home invasions [and] murders" and calls for the completion of the "danged fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border, reversing years of criticizing such a barrier.

Facing the most difficult primary challenge he has seen in years, the ad is the most recent in a series of measures McCain, R-Ariz., has taken which play to the far right of his party, including endorsing a controversial new law that allows police to stop people they suspect are illegal immigrants and demand identification.

The senator's office said the campaign ad did not indicate a change in his position on border security.

Walking along the incomplete fence with Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, McCain says: "drug and human smuggling, home invasions, murder." To, which Babeu responds, "We're outmanned. Of all the illegals in America, more than half come through Arizona."

Babeu tells McCain that his proposal for curbing illegal immigration is a perfect plan: "You bring troops, state, county and local law enforcement together."

"And," adds McCain, "complete the danged fence."

"It'll work this time. Senator, You're one of us," Babeu replies.

Since 2008, more than 500 miles of patchy fence have been built along the nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico, mostly in Texas and Arizona, but its efficacy is debatable.

McCain's call to complete the "danged fence" is similar in tone to a comment he made in 2007, but rather different in substance.

In a 2007 Vanity Fair interview, McCain said, "I think the fence is least effective. But I'll build the g..damned fence if they want it."

A year later in September 2008, on the eve of the presidential election, McCain told the Spanish-language station Univision that his plan did not include "walls and fences."