But itâ€™s shaping up to be a struggle, based on interviews with the senators President Barack Obama has approached on the issue.
The administration is starting with a pool of 11 Republicans who voted for immigration reform in 2006. Subtract a few who are dead-ends â€” such as John McCain, who faces a tough primary in Arizona â€” and that leaves the White House zeroing in on several others, including Dick Lugar, Judd Gregg and Lisa Murkowski and a couple of newcomers: Scott Brown and George LeMieux.
Each got a call from President Barack Obama from Air Force One two weeks ago. And last Wednesday, Obama stressed that without Republican support immigration reform is a nonstarter.
Next up, White House staff will reach out to the senatorsâ€™ staffs to test out an outline of a Democratic proposal on immigration. Senate Democrats also have approached the White House about hosting an immigration summit to elevate the issue, an idea that came up during a meeting with immigration groups last Thursday, a person familiar with the meeting said.
Six other Republican senators voted for immigration reform four years ago â€” Bob Bennett, Sam Brownback, Susan Collins, Mitch McConnell, Olympia Snowe and George Voinovich â€” but here are the Top 5 the White House is focused on now:
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