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POLITICS: PennAve

This prominent conservative says immigration reform isn't necessarily dead

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Politics,Congress,Betsy Woodruff,Immigration,Paul Ryan,Campaigns,PennAve,Eric Cantor,Grover Norquist

Tuesday might have been a bad night for immigration reform -- but not necessarily.

That's the message from Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform. He favors the kind of immigration reform -- including a large guest worker program and more legal immigration -- that many Tea Party activists vehemently oppose, and he said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's shocking loss to underdog primary challenger Dave Brat might be a hard blow for House action on the issue.

But it’s not guaranteed, and it depends on the media narrative that emerges, he added.

“Give it ten days,” Norquist said.

If a consensus emerges that Cantor’s stance on immigration lost him his seat, then that’s a big problem for reform proponents.

“If the narrative hardens that that’s what it was about, then it could spook people and put off a vote that might otherwise happen in next month,” Norquist said. “If people are convinced, No, that wasn’t what it is, then it won’t have any effect at all.”

Cantor drew strong criticism from grassroots activists, including Brat, who charged that he was too soft on illegal immigration. But that doesn’t mean immigration reform has to be a death knell for its Republican supporters, per Norquist.

“It didn't happen in [House Speaker John] Boehner's district,” he said. “It didn't happen in other House districts. Paul Ryan is very strongly, emphatically pro-immigration reform and doesn't have these sorts of challenges.

“Could a narrative be developed on a talk radio show that that’s what this was, and somebody’d buy it? That’s possible,” he continued. “Do I think that’s what it is? No.”

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