A few weeks after Senator Marco Rubio joined a bipartisan push for an immigration overhaul in 2013, he arrived alongside Senator Chuck Schumer at the executive dining room of News Corporation’s Manhattan headquarters for dinner.
Their mission was to persuade Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the media empire, and Roger Ailes, the chairman and chief executive of its Fox News division, to keep the network’s on-air personalities from savaging the legislation and give it a fighting chance at survival.
Mr. Murdoch, an advocate of immigration reform, and Mr. Ailes, his top lieutenant and the most powerful man in conservative television, agreed at the Jan. 17, 2013, meeting to give the senators some breathing room.
But the media executives, highly attuned to the intensifying anger in the Republican grass roots, warned that the senators also needed to make their case to Rush Limbaugh, the king of conservative talk radio, who held enormous sway with the party’s largely anti-immigrant base.
So the senators supporting the legislation turned to Mr. Rubio, the Florida Republican, to reach out to Mr. Limbaugh.
The dinner at News Corporation headquarters — which has not been previously reported — and the subsequent outreach to Mr. Limbaugh illustrate the degree to which Mr. Rubio served as the chief envoy to the conservative media for the group supporting the legislation. The bill would have provided a pathway to American citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants along with measures to secure the borders and ensure that foreigners left the United States upon the expiration of their visas.
As early as March 9, 2011, Mr. Schumer joined Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and another eventual member of the Gang of Eight, at the Palm restaurant in Manhattan, where they made their case to Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Ailes and Mr. Limbaugh in a private room. The senators argued how damaging the word “amnesty” was to their efforts, and walked Mr. Limbaugh through their vision for an immigration overhaul.
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