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Editorial

Ayotte takes stand on immigration

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte may have stood firmly with some of the more conservative factions of the Republican Party earlier this year on gun control. But on Sunday, she tacked toward the center on another key ideological issue that has long divided the parties and voters.

The passage of comprehensive immigration overhaul has long been seen as a political impossibility, but now with key Republicans like Ayotte getting on board, it may garner enough support to get through the U.S. Senate. The far more conservative House Republicans are likely to stand against what’s seen as a path toward amnesty for 11 million undocumented workers. Reports, however, indicate House Speaker John Boehner is already working to create a road map to gaining acceptance of the immigration reform bill. If passed in its current state, the bill would increase security measures at the border, and it would put into place a system that would verify legal status for prospective employees. But the biggest hurdles the bill faces is the path to citizenship for those here illegally.

So, why is this happening and what does Ayotte’s support mean?

The support among some in the Republican Party is almost surely because of the beating the GOP took nationally in November from Latino voters. For the party not to change its course would only widen the disconnect it has with the nation’s fastest growing demographic.

That Ayotte is among a core group of Republicans taking the lead on this issue shows she’s positioning herself to ascend to national prominence . It does a couple other things as well. It helps her win back some of the moderates she lost in the fallout of the failed gun bill, and it allows her to distance herself from the more strident members of her party.

In the end, moves like this one will position her strongly as a candidate significantly right of center, but not too right. And that could thrust her onto the national stage.

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