Republican Party shifts on immigration with high stakes for 2016

The conventional wisdom in the Republican Party is changing.

Less than two years ago, party leaders declared that the GOP "must embrace and champion immigration reform" to grow. But now, as President Obama issued a sweeping immigration order, some of the GOP's most prominent governors are describing immigration reform as little more than an afterthought.

The comments reflect a dramatic shift among some GOP leaders emboldened by this month's midterm success.

The sense of urgency that dominated Republican leadership after losing the 2012 presidential contest has all but disappeared. The evolution on immigration could play prominently in the looming presidential contest.

The contrast between the parties has never been clearer.

Hillary Rodham Clinton called the immigration order a historic step. GOP leaders threatened lawsuits, shutdowns and even impeachment.