Mitt Romney attacked Rudy Giuliani's record on taxes during Tuesday's debate.
DEARBORN, Michigan (CNN) – The escalating campaign trail war of words between Republican presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney over taxes and line-item vetoes moved center stage Tuesday in the economic debate.
Romney took Giuliani to task over a commuter tax he backed as New York Mayor, and his effort to fight a presidential line-item veto. Romney called Giuliani’s positions “a mistake” and said, “when it's all said and done, if you're a New York taxpayer, city taxpayer, your state and city tax combined can reach as high as 10 percent. And in our state, if you're a Boston worker, it's going to be more like 5.3 percent.”
Giuliani countered that Romney had a weak record on spending as Massachusetts Governor, saying, “the difference is that under Governor Romney, spending went up in Massachusetts, per capita, by 8 percent. Under me, spending went down by 7 percent.”
Giuliani accused Romney of not controlling taxes while in office.
Giuliani used two popular conservative issues in defending his opposition to the line item veto. He said, “The line item veto was unconstitutional. I took Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court and beat Bill Clinton. It's unconstitutional. What the heck can you do about that, if you're a strict constructionist.”
Giuliani, leading in the national polls, but trailing in Iowa, claimed the issue is dead because the Supreme Court has already struck it down, saying, “You have to be honest people. And you can't fool all of the people all of the time.... You don't get to believe about it; the Supreme Court has ruled on it”
But Romney argued a reworked version would be legal, saying, “I do not believe the line-item veto is properly structured. The president, just last year, introduced a line item veto that passes constitutional muster.... I'm in favor of the line item veto to make sure that the president is able to help get out pork and waste. Washington is finally going to have to have a reduction in spending.
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- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk