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Thompson Stresses His Conservative Credentials

Saturday, September 8, 2007

THROWING HARD RIGHTS IN IOWA

Thompson Stresses His Conservative Credentials

ON THE BUS IN IOWA, Sept. 7 -- On his second full day of official campaigning, Fred Thompson spoke at length about his health and his opinions about Iraq, Social Security, homosexuality and abortion, both in an interview with reporters and at events around the state.

When speaking to voters, the former senator from Tennessee stresses his "100 percent" record on opposition to abortion, and he repeated that Friday. But he said he opposes making women subject to criminal sanctions.

"I've always said that I did not believe that young girls and their families should be criminalized. They can do whatever they want to abortion doctors, as far as I'm concerned," he said. "If it comes down to giving criminal sanctions to 18-, 19-year-old girls and their mama, I'm against that."

He also declined to agree with a questioner in Sioux City who suggested that gay people are deviant. He said he supports a constitutional amendment that would prohibit judges from overturning state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage.

"I'm not going to pass judgment on several million of my fellow citizens. Anybody that knows me knows how I feel about the importance of a family . . . of traditional marriage," he said. "It's the thing I want for my children. But it goes back to the unity we were talking about. As president of the United States one should not go out of their way to castigate or pass judgment publicly on a large segment of people."

Gary Bauer, a leading conservative activist who once ran the Christian Coalition, said religious leaders are pleased that Thompson is seeking ways to bar gay people from marrying each other, but he said Thompson's approach, while novel, does not go far enough.

"A lot of pro-family leaders are going to want to have a chance to talk with him to make the case that even this approach doesn't completely solve the problem that they see," he said. "It would be difficult to have a country that has different definitions of marriage."

Thompson, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2004, discussed his health and said doctors have assured him that the particular kind of cancer that he has is very survivable.

"It is a chronic illness. . . . I've heard doctors use the comparison to diabetes," he said.

On Iraq, Thompson offered flat-out support for the decision to invade and for the president's troop buildup earlier this year. In speeches, he frequently refers to Saddam Hussein as having been "a madman," and on the bus he repeated his belief that the war is justified.

There have been lighter moments on the campaign trail, too. At one appearance, Thompson's 3-year-old daughter, Hayden, ran on the stage and clasped Thompson's left leg, making the audience swoon.

He picked her up and said: "You're a good Republican. Do the elephant." She raised her arm up and down like a trunk.

-- Michael D. Shear

THE BORDER AND A FINE LINE

Illegal Immigration Is Not Criminal, Giuliani Tells CNN

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said yesterday that illegal immigration is not a crime, prompting immediate criticism from his presidential rivals on an incendiary issue for GOP voters.

Giuliani made the comments during a CNN interview with host Glenn Beck on Headline News, saying that violations of the nation's immigration laws are civil violations, not criminal infractions.

"I know that's very hard for people to understand, but it's not a federal crime," Giuliani said, adding later: "I was U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. So believe me, I know this. In fact, when you throw an immigrant out of the country, it's not a criminal proceeding. It's a civil proceeding."

Giuliani's literal definition of illegal immigration gave his rivals a new opportunity to criticize the former mayor on an issue that they have used to raise questions about his conservative credentials.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has been harping on Giuliani's immigration record for weeks, accusing him of, in effect, creating a sanctuary for illegal immigrants in New York City by refusing to enforce immigration rules against everyone.

"Mayor Giuliani has the wrong approach on the issue of illegal immigration," Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said. "His advocacy for sanctuary-city policies and his troubling lack of interest in making enforcement of our nation's immigration laws a priority puts him at odds with those who want to secure our borders and end illegal immigration."

In recent weeks, Giuliani has defended his actions in New York by saying he focused his efforts on illegal immigrants who committed crimes as part of his overall desire to reduce crime in the city. He has also criticized Romney, accusing the former governor of doing nothing while several cities in his state officially declared themselves "sanctuary cities."

On Friday, a Giuliani spokeswoman said, "Mitt Romney's position of the hour probably shouldn't be taken seriously, considering he rewarded four Massachusetts sanctuary cities with hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid and allowed the illegal population to skyrocket. We'll wait a minute and see if he changes his mind again."

-- Michael D. Shear

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