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Republican candidates clashed over immigration issues in a heated debate this week, a U.S.-backed Mideast peace summit was held in Annapolis, Md., and Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., announced he would step down from a 35-year career in Congress by the year's end. Mark Shields and Rich Lowry offer analysis of the week in the news.
And to the analysis of Shields and Lowry, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, National Review editor Rich Lowry. David Brooks is off this evening.
Rich, this week's Republican CNN-YouTube debate, been a lot of comment about it, some of it negative, having to do with the questions, as well as the answers. What was your reading?
RICH LOWRY, Editor, National Review:
Well, you have two big fights going on in the Republican field at the moment. One is Mitt Romney versus Rudy Giuliani. Both of them think the other one is their main obstacle to the nomination.
And Rudy, I think, has particularly been turning up the heat on Romney, because Giuliani realizes that the strategy that his people talked about for so long — "we wait until Florida, we wait until February 5th," when there are states he can win — is not viable. He really has to do well in an early state, and the one he projects best in is New Hampshire.
And standing smack in his way there is Mitt Romney. So Rudy has been doing more retail campaigning in New Hampshire than he had been. He's up in the air with ads finally. And he's going after him, hammer and tongs, as only Rudy Giuliani can.
It's really gotten negative. Do you think it's paying off? Are either one of these — because Romney has gotten just as negative on Giuliani, not just as, but, I mean, they're both there exchanging some real blows, Mark.
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:
These fellows don't like each other.
I picked that up. I picked up on that.
They really don't. No…
Do you think it's real, they don't like each other?
Oh, I think it really is real. And I think, at the risk of jeopardizing both candidacies, I thought the stars in St. Petersburg were Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, and John McCain. And…
You mean, you think Romney and Giuliani are hurting each other?
I think Giuliani had a bad night. Romney I thought was put away by McCain in the torture exchange. And Giuliani, when he went after Romney on immigration, I thought Giuliani gave a really terrific answer about his own policies in New York. So he got 60,000 kids, who are the children of illegal immigrants in our city, when he was mayor. What are you going to do? You're not going to have them go to school? You're going to have them just roam the streets?
I mean, that was not only a compassionate and just thing to do; it was a very practical thing to do. When people are victims of crime, are they supposed to report it, but risk deportation? I think that was practical. But then he goes into the sanctuary estate or the sanctuary…
Governor's mansion, mansion, personal mansion, actually, of Romney and, you know, got into who are you hiring? I didn't think he came off well there at all.
I was just going ask Rich on this. Why is the — the immigration thing, I didn't clock it, but it seemed like there was an awful lot. I mean, it's not just Romney and Giuliani, but there was an awful lot of talk about immigration. Is that a big thing to Republican voters?
Oh, yes, it's the hot-button issue, besides the war on Iraq or the war on terror, for Republican voters. And it projects it will be a pretty important issue in the general election, as well.
And what's going on is Mitt Romney strategically needs to get to the right of Rudy Giuliani on everything. And the way he's trying to do it on immigration is criticizing the so-called sanctuary city policy in New York.
And Mark is right. I don't think it very strong grounds on which to attack Giuliani, because if the federal government is not enforcing the immigration laws, and you have tens of thousands of these illegal aliens in your city, as a matter of humanity and decency, they have to get services.
But as Mark points out, Giuliani then undertook this incredible cheap shot at Mitt Romney for hiring a firm that hired illegal aliens and there was no way for him to know that.
They were working on the lawn there.
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