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Thompson Touts Gun Rights, Blasts Rivals

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JIM DAVENPORT | November 24, 2007 05:37 PM EST | AP

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LADSON, S.C. — White House hopeful Fred Thompson called his trip down an aisle of rifles, shotguns and pistols at a gun show Saturday "a day in paradise," and criticized his leading Republican opponents for past positions on gun control and abortion.

Talking to reporters after the gun show visit, Thompson singled out former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Giuliani "never met a gun-control bill he didn't like until he started to run for president and now I understand he very much approves of the Supreme Court taking jurisdiction of this Washington, D.C., case which most Second Amendment advocates think will establish that the Second Amendment means what it says and grants individual rights to people to possess firearms," Thompson said. "So, ah, maybe he's changed his mind about that, but his record is clear otherwise."

A Giuliani campaign spokesman was quick to reply by e-mail to Thompson's criticism: "Mayor Giuliani is a strong supporter of the second amendment and believes our focus should be on making sure criminals are the ones who can't get guns. It's the same tough-on-crime approach Rudy took in bringing historic crime reductions to New York City, and we'll match that experience against Fred Thompson's record of chasing moonshiners any day of the week."

Thompson was asked about mailers Romney has sent talking about his abortion opposition and promoting himself as the clear choice on that issue.

"Until about two years ago, when he decided he was going to run for president, Governor Romney was the most adamant pro-choice advocate that I've ever seen," Thompson said. "You know, pull it up on the YouTube sometime of his debates and when he was running for governor and see the fervor with which he held his pro-choice beliefs. Now he's entitled to change his mind, but I don't think that he ought to be casting aspersions on anybody in terms of pro-choice _ pro-life, pro-choice _ issues," Thompson said.

A Romney campaign spokesman responded that Romney "is proudly pro-life and his record as governor reflects that."

Saturday was the former Tennessee senator and "Law and Order" actor's second trip to a gun show since launching his late bid for the GOP nomination in September, and followed a campaign stop at a gun shop in New Hampshire Friday.

At the Land and Sky Gun Show, Thompson examined an old M1 Garand rifle. He also raised an over-and-under Winchester shotgun suitable for the skeet shooting he's been known to do as he made his way through the 200 vendors at a fairgrounds just outside of North Charleston, S.C.

"It's a beautiful day in paradise," Thompson said when greeted by one of the people packing the show's aisles. He added that he wished he could spend more time and money at the show.

Thompson was a hit with James Hill, 65, from Summerville, S.C. "It's absolutely important to come to gun shows," Hill said. Thompson, he said, wins his support because he's strong on Second Amendment gun ownership rights. "He's right where our strength is."

Thompson was asked about illegal immigration several times, including about ending automatic citizenship for children born in the U.S. He said he thinks that would require a constitutional amendment. However, he said so-called chain-immigration tied to the birth of the child should be curbed.

"I think if we stop this chain migration that we would really address the issue," Thompson said during a stop at a nearby barbecue restaurant, Thompson.