DES MOINES, Iowa - Criticizing other GOP candidates as weak in their efforts to stop illegal immigration, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo announced Monday he would seek the Republican presidential nomination.
"The political elite in Washington have chosen to ignore this phenomenon," he said.
Tancredo, a congressman who has gained prominence in recent years for his staunch stance against illegal immigration, said immigration would be the primary focus of his campaign.
He said he would not enter the race if he thought one of the leading candidates was sufficiently conservative on the issue.
It's, "the field, the field," he said when asked why he was entering the race. "You look and you see no one is going to make this the primary issue of their campaign."
Tancredo made his announcement on a conservative Des Moines-area radio show, opting for a live broadcast rather than a more typical staged campaign event.
Tancredo said he chose radio because talk radio had for years given him a platform for his stand against illegal immigration. And he made the announcement in Des Moines rather than his home state of Colorado because of the importance of Iowa in the nominating process.
"That's how you get there," he said. "You do well in Iowa, you do well in New Hampshire."
Tancredo's goal for the Iowa caucuses are fairly modest. He said he would like to finish third or fourth in Iowa, a placement he contends would be enough to help launch him to the GOP nomination.
He said he wasn't intimidated by other campaigns with more money and resources. Tancredo said he had raised a little more than a million dollars for his presidential bid. In comparison, aides to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced on Monday that he had raised more than $20 million.
"We have something they don't have _ a group of people out there who are there because of an issue," Tancredo said. "And they're never going to have that. They can use their 100 million to try and buy constituency. I have it. It's natural. It's there."