Does the GOP Base Care More About Immigration or Abortion?

Two conservative candidates try to galvanize base on different issues

ByABC News
July 2, 2007, 6:19 PM

July 2, 2007 — -- They're both conservative Republicans running long shot campaigns for president, and they're both in Congress. But Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas have decidedly different platforms.

Tancredo is the anti-immigration candidate and Brownback is the anti-abortion candidate. And they're arguing about it.

Each hopes that primary voters in Iowa care more about his issue than the other's. Attacked by Tancredo in Iowa on immigration this weekend, Brownback pointed the finger at Tancredo today on abortion.  Tancredo is the national voice against amnesty, leading the conservative charge against the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill defeated last week in the Senate. He had challenged all nine Republican presidential candidates to vote against what he calls amnesty. But Brownback waffled on the immigration issue from the anti-amnesty standpoint.  Brownback supported debating the bill and at first voted for moving toward a final vote. But 11 minutes after casting that vote, Brownback changed his mind and voted against moving to a final vote. The point is, Brownback at least seemed to entertain the notion of considering immigration reform. That, after all, is Tancredo's issue.  And Tancredo took Brownback to task this weekend. Brownback has "been an open-border guy for years,'' Tancredo told The Associated Press. "During a 1996 debate on the issue, he was the primary opponent to most the reform issues. Now he's trying to 'modify' his approach and say he's always been with us.''

Brownback did not take the criticism lying down. The issue most important to Brownback's campaign is not immigration but abortion. His campaign motto is to bring a "culture of life" back to America. While campaigning in the early caucus state of Iowa today, Brownback's campaign accused Tancredo of waffling on abortion by accepting "thousands from the founder of the Planned Parenthood network." And its true -- the contribution part, at least. John Tanton, 73, is the contributor in question. A retired ophthalmologist from Petoskey, Mich., Tanton is an immigration activist, an environmental activist and, yes, he was an organizer and president of the Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood from 1965-1971. Tanton is no longer officially affiliated with the group --