COMMENTS: Lightning Rods

All three networks ended the week with politics. ABC and NBC went on the campaign trail with Rudolph Giuliani. CBS stayed on Capitol Hill, where Sharyl Attkisson claimed on Exclusive on the secret talks over immigration legislation.

Attkisson revealed that "politicians at opposite ends" of the immigration debate have been meeting behind closed doors since March. The three key players are Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security representing the White House; Edward Kennedy, on behalf of Senate Democrats; and Lindsey Graham, for Senate Republicans. The House of Representatives, Attkisson explained, has indicated that it will follow the Senate's lead. The bottom line of the draft is that any immigrant living here illegally could avoid deportation but "would have to wait at least 13 years to become a citizen." To placate those who would criticize such a bill as amnesty, its other provisions include spending on border security, registration-plus-fines for the undocumented, and a pathway to citizenship that rewards professional skills and English speakers. Timing is crucial for such a deal, Attkisson reported: "Once this window of opportunity closes, all sides agree it will be too close to the Presidential election to tackle a subject that is such a lightning rod."

On the campaign trail, Giuliani decided not to disavow his longtime pro-choice position on abortion rights. In doing so, he "challenged a longheld Republican Party tradition," noted ABC's Jake Tapper. He quoted a sample criticism by Giuliani's pro-life rival Mike Huckabee: "That is like saying: 'I hate slavery but people can go ahead and practice it.' It is either right or it is wrong." Tapper ticked off a trio of GOP candidates who switched from pro-choice to pro-life--Ronald Reagan, George Bush senior, Mitt Romney--before running for the White House. NBC's David Gregory noted that Giuliani had contributed to Planned Parenthood during the '90s. He mapped out Giuliani's strategy for the primary season: "Deemphasize the early voting states and focus on that megaprimary." In big states like California and New York "his moderate social views may be a strength not a weakness."


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