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Running for the border

"Running for the border" Continued...

Issue: "Katrina: One year later," Aug. 26, 2006

Once printed, the comments led presidential advisor Karl Rove to phone Tancredo, calling him a "traitor," according to Tancredo. The congressman described the argument as a 40-minute shouting match as he drove from his home in Alexandria to his Capitol office: "I said, Karl, let me ask you something. If it happens the way I say it, who do you think Americans should blame? The Boy Scouts? The Elks Club? It's us!" Tancredo recalled later that Rove forbade him from meeting with the president, saying not ever again to "darken the doorstep of the White House."

Being dressed down by Rove may have corralled other GOP congressmen. But it only seems to have emboldened Tancredo. In his address at the Tucson rally, he called fellow Republican Rep. Mike Pence a good man before taking swipes at the Indiana lawmaker's plan for a modified guest-worker program -something Tancredo labeled amnesty. He charged conservative Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, another fellow Republican, with being "as left as they come" on immigration.

Still, Tancredo remains sought-after, particularly in border-state races, and his popularity is growing. He says if no serious border enforcement candidates emerge for the 2008 GOP presidential primaries, he'll launch his own presidential campaign, noting he was the surprise victor in a Michigan straw poll in June, beating out conventional 2008 candidates like Sen. John McCain, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Graf invited the Colorado Republican down to Tucson specifically so that Tancredo could help him distinguish himself from the other Republicans running in the Sept. 12 primary for Arizona's 8th District. Tancredo joked with the Tucson crowd, "Everywhere you look there are politicians that are looking to 'secure the border.'"

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