The Rudy-Mitt Smackdown

By Jennifer Parker

Nov 27, 2007 2:56pm

All the energy on the GOP side right now appears to be in the boxing ring where Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani have been squaring off.

As with all decent fighters — and both men are agile pols who can give as well as take a punch — they are both going after each other’s perceived glass jaws.

Achilles Heels, for those of you who prefer Greek mythology.

Or if you prefer Karate Kid references: "Sweep the leg."

Romney wants to paint Giuliani as liberal. Giuliani wants to paint Romney as an ineffective leader.

Hence the slaps, the latest round of which began in earnest this weekend with Giuliani in New Hampshire, continuing through today.

There have been a few issues they’ve gone back and forth on.

1) HILLARY CARE

JAB — "When Hillary’s plan first came out, Rudy Giuliani had nothing but praise for Hillary’s plan," Romney said, citing a recent New York Times story. "Why the change? Why the change in attitude? When it first came out, he was all roses and petals for Hillary’s plan. All full of praise. Now I’m running for president, he’s decided it’s not such a good idea."

UPPERCUT — Giuliani campaign communications director Katie Levinson: "Romney is once again standing in a glass house with a bunch of stones in his hand. Governor Mitt Romney passed a mandate and tax hike laden health care plan in Massachusetts which Hillary Clinton’s own legislative director said was just like HillaryCare."

2) CRIME

JAB — After a Romney judicial appointee , Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman, approved the early release of Daniel T. Tavares Jr., who killed his mother in 1991 — and who now stands accused of killing a couple in Washington state — Giuliani said "the governor is going to have to explain his appointment and the judge is going to have to explain her decision, but it’s not an isolated situation. Governor Romney did not have a good record in dealing with violent crime."

UPPERCUT –  Romney: "It’s strange to have him bringing forward my selection of individuals to serve, judges and so forth, when he’s got Bernie Kerik all over him these days," Romney said on CNN Monday. "When someone he knew was under investigation, he recommended to the president to be secretary of Homeland Security? … Throwing stones from a glass house is never a wise thing to do."

3) TAXING AND SPENDING

JAB – Romney said, "I know he did a good job as the mayor of New York City but on spending and fiscal matters, they left a bit of a problem there because when he came in there was a budget gap, but when he left, he left a budget gap twice as big as the one he inherited: over three billion dollars."

UPPERCUT – Giuliani brought out a Romney predecessor, former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci, to assail Romney’s inability to cut the state income tax from 5.3 percent to 5 percent. "He said one thing and did not get it done," said Cellucci. "Rudy Giuliani got results as mayor."

4) CHARACTER

JAB — Giuliani on Romney: "He throws stones at people. And then on that issue he usually has a worse record than whoever he’s throwing stones at."

JAB – Romney on Giuliani: "I think he’s found himself having to stand up and explain why it is that we ought to make him the nominee when he’s very much like Hillary Clinton. He’s pro-choice like Hillary Clinton. He’s pro-gay civil union like Hillary Clinton. He’s pro-sanctuary cities like she is, and the record of ethical conduct, particularly with someone like Bernie Kerik in the administration, reminds us of the Hillary Clinton era."

JAB – Giuliani on Romney: "The fact is, Mitt is in no position to be doing that. He really is in a glass house. Everything he attacks somebody else for, he usually has a much worse record."

JAB — Romney spox Kevin Madden: "What you’re seeing is the emergence of a very nasty tone from Mayor Giuliani."

… and it will indubitably continue tomorrow evening at the YouTube debate in St. Pete, Florida!

– jpt

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