Posted on May 22, 2007

Immigration Heats Up South Carolina GOP

Jim Davenport, AP, May 20, 2007

The crowd at South Carolina’s Republican convention cheered Saturday when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney criticized a new immigration proposal and booed a key ally of U.S. Sen. John McCain when he defended it.

The immigration compromise between key senators and the White House played strongly at the convention as more than 1,000 delegates and Republican activists gathered. Many in the crowd wore stickers with “Senate amnesty bill” crossed out.

They cheered as presidential candidate Romney told them: “One simple rule: No amnesty.”

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The crowd booed South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a key ally of McCain in both his 2000 and 2008 presidential bids, when he said he had worked with U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., on the immigration legislation.

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After the speech, Graham said he was booed on immigration because “it’s an emotional topic. People are mad.”

South Carolina’s other U.S. senator, Jim DeMint, is on opposite sides from Graham: He supports Romney and said he opposes an immigration bill that allows permanent residency of illegal aliens.

But some at the convention ridiculed Romney and accused him of being a Republican in name only, because of his changing stances on gun control, gay marriage and abortion.

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