Thompson's claims on rivals get fact-check

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WASHINGTON --- Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson said this week that he opposed a comprehensive Senate immigration reform bill, while his top rivals supported it.

Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney forcefully opposed the legislation.

Mr. Thompson said at three campaign stops that from the start he opposed the bill, co-authored by another rival, Arizona Sen. John McCain. The bill would have provided a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants, while his rivals switched their stances after it became apparent there was widespread opposition to the bill among GOP voters.

"I opposed that legislation. All the so-called top-tier candidates in this primary supported that legislation in the beginning before it became a hot potato and before it became obviously so unpopular before the American people," Mr. Thompson said Tuesday in Spartanburg, S.C.

THE SPIN: Mr. Thompson's campaign cited comments Mr. Romney made in 2005 and 2006 and Mr. Giuliani made in 2006 that were approving of the approach taken on immigration reform in a bill co-sponsored by Mr. McCain that was before Congress at the time. That bill included a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants, but also had some important differences from the 2007 bill.

THE FACTS: While Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Romney expressed approval of the earlier bill, they opposed the McCain bill that was debated in the Senate this year and have been strongly critical of the measure.The bill failed in the Senate in June.

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