Barack Obama

Sending a bill with his name on it could automatically alienate Republicans who might otherwise support an overhaul.

By Kathleen Hennessey, Christi Parsons and Brian Bennett, Washington Bureau
January 26, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON — As President Obama settles on a strategy to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, he faces a quandary that speaks volumes about the bitter nature of politics in a divided capital: The very fact that a plan has Obama’s name on it might be enough to kill it.

Obama will relaunch his drive for an immigration overhaul Tuesday in Las Vegas, where heavy turnout by Latino voters in November helped seal his reelection. But some allies in Congress warn that embracing too specific a proposal could mean its death warrant.

Republicans, they say, would feel compelled to oppose a bill identified explicitly with the president. Better, they advise, to announce broad principles and avoid particulars, even if that means violating a campaign pledge to propose legislation. Obama promised to do that in his first campaign, did not deliver, and repeatedly vowed during his reelection campaign to make up for that failure.

The toxic nature of the Obama brand in Republican circles has become a factor that affects White House decisions large and small. Aides still recall with astonishment that when Obama invited members of Congress to the White House to watch the movie “Lincoln” last year, at a screening attended by some of the film’s stars, not a single GOP lawmaker attended.

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