Republican strategists say the president has managed his role in the immigration debate with political tact that has not always been evident in the Obama administration's governing strategy.
"He has played this very carefully. He knows that if he pushes for it, the bill will collapse and he will be blamed for it," says John Feehery, a GOP strategist and spokesman for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. "He know that if the gang of eight succeeds, he succeeds."
Tuesday, in one of his few public speeches on immigration reform, Obama made it clear that the bill before the Senate isn't perfect or the one he would have drafted himself, but his tone showed evidence of a much more politically savvy president who knows with just three years left to make good on a campaign promise to Latinos, "the time is now" to act. And that is still the case, even if he is not the one leading the charge.
"Now, this bill isn't perfect. It's a compromise. And going forward, nobody is going to get everything that they want – not Democrats, not Republicans, not me," Obama said.