OK, OK, not really - this is just me being a wiseass... :)
For the first time in recent memory, they'll be running on an "us versus them" platform.
Well, for the first time since the last election, anyway.
They can't run on the economy - it's tanking, hard.
They can't run on fiscal responsibility - a run of record budget deficits sort of blocks that tactic.
They can't run on the war in Iraq - it's a quagmire (and John McCain's "we'll be there for a hundred years" doesn't really help them there.)
They can't run as the great protectors of liberty and the "American way" - the Patriot Act and FISA expansion (among other things) stop them there.
They can't run as the party of integrity - check out the list of Republicans facing investigation or indictment.
Education? The environment? You're kidding, right?
Nope, pretty much all that's left is that old reliable, demonizing an amorphous 'them', in this case, immigrants.
Just this week, Senate Republicans temporarily blocked an economic stimulus bill over concerns that some undocumented immigrants might receive rebate checks.
One question was left unanswered in their proclamations of heroic effort to protect the faltering U.S. economy from stimulation by anyone other than taxpayers who are in the U.S. legally -
How could an undocumented immigrant get on the list of intended recipients of rebate checks, other than by being on the list of taxpayers in the first place?
The fact that many, perhaps most, undocumented immigrants pay taxes is a fact that the nativists within and without Congress want Americans to ignore.
It's rhetorically inconvenient.
Congressional Republicans aren't reserving their anti-immigrant efforts to 'big' bills exclusively - they trot out their emnity for immigrants even on 'small' bills.
On HR4137, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) proposed two (2!) amendments targeted at immigrants (here and here); no single-minded bigot he, Rep. King's third proposed amendment (here) targeted affirmative action.
Of course, it's not just Congressional Republicans - there are at least 15 anti-immigrant proposals before the Arizona legislature alone, and countless others across the county ('countless' because I don't have the patience to navigate the websites of 50 state legislatures trying to find the actual number. :) )
On the presidential campaign side, John McCain's biggest remaining obstacle in his quest for the Republican nomination is that the far-right wing of his party doesn't consider him to be conservative enough.
Never mind that he supports legislatively overriding Roe vs Wade, whole-heartedly supports Bush's Forever War, and supports continued tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations.
Their problem with McCain is that he doesn't work up a strong enough hatred for immigrants.
Expect him to move to the right (a little bit, anyway) to appease them: more importantly, expect many of the down-ballot Rep candidates this year to make immigrant-bashing the main plank of their campaign platforms.
They have nothing else left to campaign on.
Nothing positive, anyway.