On Tom Tancredo

He can argue, legitimately, that the one issue he set out to bring to the forefront of the debate has, through sheer force of the Republican base, traveled there.

Before Tancredo, the GOP presidential candidates didn't take the anti-immigration sentiment they heard on talk radio all that seriously.

After Tancredo, it sometimes seems as if it's the only they issue they do take seriously. They scramble to out-Tancredo each other; any hint of sympathy for the undocumented worker is now verboten. "Misplaced sympathy," is what Fred Thompson called it yesterday.

Tancredo -- and Tancredoites in Congress and millions of Americans -- have forced at least four candidates -- Huckabee and McCain are two -- to completely change the way they talk and think about immigration. Even Democrats call for border security first.

Tancredo gave voice to a burbling reservoir of anxiety and can fairly be said to have the most effect, policy-wise, of any presidential candidate. Politically, too, some Republicans believe that Tancredo-style immigration politics may have irreparably damaged the GOP's efforts to incorporate Hispanics into their coalition.

Tom Tancredo is an outsize figure in our politics.

Will he endorse? Unclear. If he does, the betting is on Thompson or Romney, although advisers to both men expect the other to get it, if it's gettable. Note that Bay Buchanan is a member of the LDS church and is said to be pushing Tancredo to endorse Romney as a way of repudiating Huckabee, somehow. We'll see.

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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