October 14th, 2007
11:27 AM ET
11 years ago

McCain 'perplexed' on Romney comments

McCain disagreed with comments from fellow GOP rival Mitt Romney.

(CNN)–Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, took off the gloves with Mitt Romney, over comments he said the former Massachusetts governor made Friday.

"Former Governor Romney yesterday proclaimed himself the only real Republican in this race," McCain said according to remarks released by his campaign for delivery Saturday to a gathering of the New Hampshire Republican Party. "As we all know, when he ran for office in Massachusetts being a Republican wasn't much of a priority for him. In fact, when he ran against Ted Kennedy, he said he didn't want to return to the days of Reagan-Bush. I always thought Ronald Reagan was a real Republican."

Related: Romney: I am 'Republican wing of the Republican Party'

"When Governor Romney donated money to a Democratic candidate in New Hampshire, I don't think he was speaking for Republicans," the GOP presidential hopeful went on to say. "When he voted for a Democratic candidate for President, Paul Tsongas, I don't think he was speaking for Republicans. When he refused to endorse the Contract with America, I don't think he was speaking for Republicans. And when he was embracing the Democratic position on many major issues of the day, I don't think he was speaking for Republicans."

"So you'll understand why I'm a little perplexed when Mitt Romney now suggests that he's a better Republican than me," McCain said, "or that he speaks for the Republican wing of the Republican Party."

Fred Thompson's campaign weighed in on Romney's comments as well.

"In 1994, Mitt Romney accomplished what people had long thought was impossible – he ran for Senate to the left of Ted Kennedy," said Todd Harris, Thompson's Communications Director in an e-mail statement Saturday. "I didn't know there was any room there. For him to now claim to represent the Republican wing of the Republican Party is yet another Mitt Romney flip flop."

“There is an important contrast between Governor Romney and the other candidates. While some fought the line-item veto with lawsuits in court, Governor Romney was using the line-item as governor to stop wasteful spending," said Kevin Madden, Romney's national spokesman in a statement to CNN. "While other candidates are opposed to a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect traditional marriage, Governor Romney has strongly supported it. While other candidates in this race voted against the Bush tax cuts that have delivered growth to our economy, Governor Romney has called for extending that tax relief. Governor Romney's strong record of bringing about conservative change is what sets him apart from the other candidates."

“The status-quo mindset that has gripped Washington and molded those that have been there for so long is in need of fresh ideas and conservative change that can only come from outside of Washington," Madden said. "Angry attacks from flailing campaigns won’t stop Governor Romney from moving forward with his optimistic agenda designed to bring sorely needed change to Washington.”

McCain was scheduled to campaign in New Hampshire on Saturday and Sunday.

Click here to CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com

- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

Filed under: John McCain • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • Race to '08
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Carmen, Miami FL

    If Romney's not exactly a "real" Republican as defined by McCain, that's not such a bad thing.

    Being a "good Republican" hasn't really done either candidate or this country a favor.

    October 13, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. Daniel

    McCain is understandingly frustrated... but it does seem Romney's creds seem real enough that the Religious Right is now beginning to coalesce around his candidacy in an attempt to block Giuliani.

    October 13, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. laurinda,ny

    Actually, I think that McCain is funny. It makes you wonder what the Republicans think about all their candidates. I've never heard of all these candidates bickering over such silly things. I'm glad that they started all of this early because it let's people see how these people really are. Hillary is still keeping her kool though. She knows how to win.

    October 13, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. Dyinglikeflies, New York, NY

    Romney is not real, period. He's a carefully planted political mirage, intended to be whatever you want him to be. But when did McCain suddenly become the consummate Republican? People in glass out-houses...

    October 13, 2007 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |

    Mitt Romney is a chameleon who adapts to the challenge at hand. He is not a man of steadfast convictions. This is not a knock on his Mormon faith but on his shifting stance on issues clearly opposed by the Mormon hierarchy. In Mass. he ran as a republican liberal now he is running as hardcore republican. Go figure.

    October 13, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. KEITH

    McCain is for perpetual war and allowing Mexico to overrun the United States, Romney is for perpetual war and anything he thinks might sound good to get elected. Giuliani is a crossdresser, he's unfaithful and used the remains of WTC firefighters to fill potholes. Fred Thompsons Campaign slogan is Security, Unity and Prosperity..If that ain't North American Union I don't know what it is, he is also for everlasting war. PLEASE VOTE RON PAUL AND STOP THE INSANITY, FOR YOU, YOUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS....

    October 13, 2007 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. lowerpericles

    By his looks... amazing. Up till' now unable to comprehend their appetite for "success". When will it end? To what extent? Tommorrow wake up – routine – decay.

    October 13, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  8. JT, Ada, OK

    Romney is the freshest and most capable Republican out there.

    Change means we need a private sector champion, not a career politician.

    October 13, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  9. RB, from the bay state

    Romney was all talk and no action in Massachusetts. He flip-flopped all the time and did nothing for the voters that elected him.

    He spent most of his time roaming all over the country ginning up support for a White House run. His time here was resume-building, nothing more.

    He is an empty suit that is more interested in looking nice in front of a camera than doing any real work.

    Buyer beware applies here.

    October 13, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  10. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Mitt is fresh and capable??? You talking about the same guy who was for choice before he was against it – was for gay rights before he was against them ... who claimed to be a "life-long" hunter although he was only out varmit hunting twice and never with a license – joining the NRA less than 1/2 a year ago... who claims his sons are serving their country by working to get him elected, with no military service in the family?

    He looks like he's been carved out of cream cheese and has about as much substance. Like any prostitute, he'll be anything you want him to be ...

    National Security ???... he stated that as President, he would have to check with his lawyers first in case of a national emergency.

    What a guy!

    October 13, 2007 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  11. Aaron, Gladstone, Mo

    Change means we need a private sector champion, not a career politician.

    Posted By JT, Ada, OK

    If you'll pardon my amazement, George W. Bush ran as a "business candidate" and not as a politician. Mitt's only difference is he was a relative success in business, but both men have shown that they will say anything to get elected.

    October 13, 2007 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  12. letmefree

    Perhaps going against party rules is what is necessary to redefine what makes a good politician. If being a good Republican means constantly following Republican rules and supporting everything the GOP does, even when they go against what you may think is best for the nation, then being a good Republican means being a bad politician. The same goes for the Democrats. When Washington realizes what more and more of the nation is realizing- that following the party line instead of standing up for what you believe in is a fault, not a point of pride- then this nation will change for the better.

    I'm thinking of changing my party affiliation on my voter registration to independent, instead of Democratic. It doesn't change the lilt of my beliefs, but then they are my beliefs, rather than a party platform. More and more Americans are choosing the same. Independence from labels will be the salvation of the United States of America.

    October 13, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  13. David Hilo HI

    ZZZzzzzz... huh? What? Did a candidate actually say something of importance? Guess not. ZZZzzzzz...

    October 13, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  14. Cable King Pittsburgh PA

    Inasmuchas these candidates both back Bush's Iraq Holocaust they are, sadly, both real. They are both real monsters.

    October 13, 2007 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  15. Chris, Middletown, CT

    As a Republican....I know the right wing as destroyed the party....and I now see the Democrats failing down the same path – this election – I am choosing the only moderate running....(in either party) – Giuliani....we need to all send a clear message – the country needs to go to the center....many (literate) Democrats will not vote for Hillary..ever...and Republicans for the most part are in the center – Giuliani will win in 2008 – no doubt

    October 13, 2007 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  16. Darren Clarke

    Whether it is McCain or Romney, they have class of being president of our great country. Look at their debates. all of them have been super. I only hope and pray that one of them will be our president. On the contrary if any democrat comes to the office, it will be disaster for our country and we will go back ten years from now. I pray to God to protect our country from this disaster amd may better sense prevail.

    October 13, 2007 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |

    WOW Mitt, Senator John nailed your coffin closed there buddy!

    October 13, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  18. Bradley Schaubs, Greeley, CO

    Is McCain married? Because if he isn't, I think he would enjoy the company of Ann Coulter. She is also a conservative, and also despises anyone who was not raised Christian. Those two derailed the GOP's good name and would undoubtedly destroy the US from the inside.

    October 13, 2007 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  19. Cable King Pittsburgh PA

    Yo Darren,

    Most Americans wish we could go back 10 years!

    If that's what you're praying for you are not a good Christian. I guess you think that Jesus would approve of the massive death and misery Bush has wrought upon the Middle East.

    I guess you also are happy with the 2 trillion swing in the budget?

    People like you are a blight on America. Where in God's name are your values??????

    October 13, 2007 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  20. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Why Romney is a Republican I have no clue with the views he held when he ran for office in Massachusetts his views were more liberal than conservative. Perhaps knowing the political make up of Massachusetts it was more likely he could become the republican candidate than the democratic candidate. Romney has gone from being a liberal republican running for office in Massachusetts, to a right wing conservative republican
    for running for the presidency.
    As they used to say on the game show, What's My Line, "Will the Real Mitt Romney please stand up."

    October 13, 2007 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  21. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    Well said, Mr. McCain.

    October 13, 2007 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  22. Pam Dallas TX

    "The Real Republican" is the absolute LAST thing I would want to be known as...

    October 13, 2007 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  23. Scott R., San Francisco California

    I think it is rather foolish for anyone to think that the Republican Party shouldn't do what is necessary to run for and win an office in Massachussets. Perhaps the uniformed would have the Republicans cede the state to the liberals. John McCain, who is becoming an even bigger disappointment, knows this full well. If the Republicans had any hope of winning the governorship in Massachussets they needed to run just the way Mitt Romney ran.
    Mitt has the savy, the brains and the support to win the nomination as well as the presidency.

    October 13, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  24. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Just learn which of them cares more about money and power than everyday people and you will have found your "true" Republican.

    October 13, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  25. Coach Haughton NH

    I don't think mitt romney is a real anything.

    I don't want to offend anybody far right or far left but Barack Obama/Ron Paul anybody?

    October 13, 2007 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
1 2 3