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Richard Piatt ReportingMuch is at stake for the President tonight, but Congress too has seen slipping approval ratings. The timing of this speech is interesting in this election year. Immigration is a hot topic right now, and a lot of candidates--especially those running for Congress--are feeling the heat.
A get-tough stand on illegal immigration. Immigration reform on the US Senate floor this week. And, Saturday, at Utah's Republican convention, Presidential hopeful John McCain tried to hit a chord with conservatives.
Sen. John McCain, (R) Arizona: "We must fix this problem. We owe it to Americans for national security reasons alone."
You could call it a sense of urgency. With congressional approval ratings down a lot, immigration reform is one of the issues where Republicans are vulnerable.
Kirk Jowers, Hinckley Institute of Politics: "Right now there is a frenzy in the conservatives about how many people are coming in illegally, what are we going to do about it. What do we do with them once they're in? So this is President Bush's way to assuage the core republicans that we are doing something."
In Utah, Congressman Chris Cannon felt the heat in 2004 over immigration. This year it's newcomer John Jacob putting Cannon on the defensive before the June primary.
Rep. Chris Cannon, (R) Utah: "Now people are beginning to see that I have a very consistent record, that I don't like illegal immigration, but I like legal immigration."
But voters are also angry at incumbents like Cannon over things like lobbying reform, local control of education, the nation's runaway debt and more.