(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Speaking to an Irish-American audience this morning, John McCain used his strongest language of the general election campaign to grab again the mantle of comprehensive immigration reform.
In Scranton, Pa., he vowed to push through a plan that offers a path to citizenship to illegal immigrants who pay fines and fulfill other requirements. "This nation is stronger for the infusion of fresh blood and vitality," McCain said.
McCain soft-pedaled that backing for comprehensive immigration reform during the Republican primaries, when he was savaged for coddling illegal immigrants. He said that voters would not support such a plan until the borders were made secure.
The plan he championed, and that also had President Bush's support, failed to get through Congress last year. McCain highlighted his cooperation with Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and other Democrats on the issue.
While he reached across the aisle and bucked elements of his own party, McCain said, "Senator Obama took a hike" and has never stood up to his own party leaders.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.