ABC News’ Sarah Kunin (@Sarah_Kunin) reports:
A war of words erupted between two Republican presidential campaigns Tuesday morning as the Jon Huntsman campaign attacked Mitt Romney over job creation in Massachusetts and a Romney spokesperson defended the GOP presidential nomination frontrunner.
It all started at a GOP fundraiser in South Carolina last night. Jon Huntsman subtly called out former Governor Mitt Romney’s home state of Massachusetts for ranking 47th in the nation in terms of job creation.
Romney Spokesperson Andrea Saul responded this morning, emailing ABC News to say: “Mitt Romney created nearly 50,000 jobs as governor of Massachusetts and led his state to one of the most dramatic job market turnarounds in the country.”
Huntsman Spokesperson Tim Miller quickly shot back with a fiery tone never before seen by the campaign. He told ABC News : “”You know your job creation record is bad when you brag about leapfrogging a state ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The reality is Mitt Romney’s record on job creation was abysmal by every standard. Governor Huntsman will run on his record of cutting taxes, reducing regulation, and passing free market health care which resulted in Utah becoming the #1 state for job creation. We assume Mitt Romney will continue to run away from his record.”
The offensive by Huntsman’s campaign is a new tactic for someone who kicked off his presidential bid last month by promising “respect and humanity” in debates.
“We will conduct this campaign on the high road,” Huntsman told ABC’s Jonathan Karl in June. “I don’t think you need to run down someone’s reputation to run for president.”
It appears this diplomatic approach is no more.
For his part, Romney has pointed all his fire at President Obama.
In Allentown, Pa., last month, Romney was asked during a press conference whether trying to “stay above the fray” on the campaign trail is part of his overall strategy. Romney has consistently ignored jabs by his GOP counterparts.
Romney responded, “I’m very much in the fray when it comes to dealing with the president and his economic policies because they’re not working. Obamanomics is not working.”
ABC News Emily Friedman contributed to this report.