ABC News’ John Berman, Matt Stuart and Ursula Fahy Report: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney held an early morning news conference at a West Palm Beach gas station for two very different purposes: one was to mourn the loss of Gordon Hinckley, the president of the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter Day Saints who died yesterday at the age of 97; the second was to bash G.O.P. rival John McCain.
On Hinckley who led the Church through 12 years of global expansion, Romney said "we will all miss him as a family. We respect him as a man of great character."
Romney, a Mormon, praised Hinckley as a man of "humility and gentleness."
Romney said he didn’t have a personal relationship with Hinckley, but did discuss meeting with him when he was thinking of running for President.
Hinckley apparently told him — win or lose — "it would be a great experience".
Romney said he hopes to attend his funeral.
Changing gears after the somber reminiscence about a man of faith, Romney went after John McCain in a new rhetorical flourish saying that McCain is known for just 3 pieces of legislation: McCain-Feingold (which regulated campaign finance); McCain-Kennedy (which Romney calls an amnesty bill); and McCain-Lieberman (which seeks to set caps on carbon emissions). Referencing McCain’s record, Romney said, "if you want a liberal Democratic course as president, you can vote for him."
Romney claimed that the McCain-Lieberman energy plan would cost Floridians an extra thousand dollars a year.
He said the plan illustrated a "fundamental lack of understanding of the economy," on the part of John McCain.
When asked if his barbs about McCain were getting nasty, Romney said it was appropriate to talk about issues but that, "personal attacks are out of bounds." Though he added with a bid of forboding, "I’m the primary at least."