In his first debate since jumping into the lead in the polls, Newt Gingrich took the lead on a controversial topic Tuesday night when he suggested that his fellow Republicans might reconsider their outright opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants.
“I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take people who’ve been here for a quarter of a century … [and] separate them from their families and expel them,” Gingrich said during a discussion about illegal immigration and border security. “I do believe we should control the border. I do believe we should have very severe penalties.”
Then he took it a step further.
“I don’t believe that the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to say it’s going to destroy families that have been here for more than a quarter of a century,” he said. “I’m prepared to take the heat in saying: Let’s be humane in enforcing the law.”
It was a bold statement that may get the former House speaker into trouble with conservatives.
In a post-debate interview, Gingrich stood by his remarks.
“It’s important for us to unify the country by having an honest conversation, not just a series of slogans,” he said.