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. TF, Lawrence, KS

    Sorry but only one worth anything is Ron Paul.

    October 13, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  2. Smith

    The only real Republican is Ron Paul.

    October 13, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  3. Darren Clarke

    Yes, Cable King. No wonder you are the leftist democrat. Let me tell you that I was in Iraq for two years and just got back. You know nothing about what is going on there. I know that we will be safe under Republicans and without you of course.

    October 13, 2007 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  4. Greg, Barrington, IL

    Dear CNN:
    Here is an interesting battle over who can claim the bragging rights to the most "traditional conservative viewpoint crown". And what are they really fighting over? Answer: Who can lay the most claim to an outdated, backward polital and social platform that will appeal to the most outdated, backward block of voting constituants our country has to offer! Can we please move forward here? The man they are all trying to emulate (Reagan) once blamed air pollution on trees (!) apparantly getting his 5th grade science lesson on chloryphill (sp?) production backwards. A man so behind the times that he saw more threat from a banana republic like Nicaragua apparently going Communist than the terrorist nation of Iran, and sold them weapons (against the order of congress) in some kind of scheme to fund an anti-communist jihad against ortega! It is time for all intelligent Americans to make it known that though we respect our father's opinions, this is a new world we are living in and the early 1900s viewpoint is not very relevant anymore. Let us respect intelligence, education and careful thought before the old gut reactions of greed, racism, bigotry, and greed of the old days. If not, we are certainly going to fall behind in the modern world...

    October 13, 2007 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  5. AR, Boston MA

    Neither is a true Republican. Romney is a charlatan, McCain a dictator in the making. I'd sooner vote for Barry Goldwater's corpse.

    October 13, 2007 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  6. erika morgan black dimond wa

    yup money for themselves and their already ultra rich friends

    October 13, 2007 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  7. Reggie , Anaheim, Ca.

    Grandpa McCain is way past his prime.
    When the rove smear sissies were at
    large in 2000, they blasted McCain
    and now Mccain is kissing their behinds. Chump!

    There is respect for McCain's military
    service to this Country, but I have
    no respect for his politics. He's
    an old phool! No excuse for that!

    October 13, 2007 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  8. Anna, Ithaca NY

    What a joke. The only real small government, fiscal conservative, Reagan/Goldwater era Republican in this race is Ron Paul.

    October 14, 2007 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  9. Lee, Mays Landing NJ

    The "real" Republican would be one who would be least fake, less likely to hide his true republicanism.
    Rudy Guiliani, McCain and Mitt Romney come up woefully short to Duncan Hunter or Tom Tancredo who actually are less afraid to show their true colors.
    These might be nasty Republican colors but at least you know what your dealing with rather than phony weasels like Romney, Guiliani or the kow-towing to the religious right now McCain.

    October 14, 2007 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  10. Steve, Denver, CO

    McCain seems unaware that posing as a "real Republican" means losing his major base, centrists and conservatives who don't want a real Republican. He should stick to the maverick image and give up the religious right angle.

    October 14, 2007 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  11. Mark G., BBH, ME

    He is now taking his talking points from Dr. Paul, shameless, and shameless reporting from CNN, report on the proper candidate please.

    October 14, 2007 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  12. Shawnie Cannon, Grants Pass OR

    Romney is professional, devoted, energetic, innovative, successful, personable and real. He is miles ahead of McCain.

    By the way, did you see the youtube video of McCain endorsing Romney back in 2002.

    McCain is just sore he is losing.

    October 14, 2007 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  13. TR, Cripple Creek, Colorado

    I am tired of more Rep, more Dem, what I want is someone who will do what is right for America, not just what is best for their particular party.

    October 14, 2007 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  14. Jason, Oceanside, CA

    It's either RON PAUL or tyranny folks. WAKE-UP!!!!!

    October 14, 2007 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  15. NE,Penna.

    Ron Paul is the only hope for this country.

    As for these two guys:

    Romney has phony written all over him.

    McCain is another Bush.

    October 14, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  16. Ryan from Philadelphia

    Ron Paul is the ONLY true conservative/republican and he has the bulk of the support.

    October 14, 2007 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  17. Edith Dodds

    Romney has changed his views. That is called growing up and becoming a better Christian. People do change. What do you people want Hillary who along with her husband enough Scandals that there are several books written on just those scandals. Romney is not ridged. He is smart, principled, and real. He was a great govenor.

    October 14, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. Matt, Bel Air, MD

    I think we should talk to our lawyers about declaring war and we should double Gitmo. Also, the surge is working, we are where we are.

    These are the things I think about whenever someone was McCain or Romney. Ron Paul is only one making sense and for actually limiting the power the Bush government has granted its presidency. I'm a registered Republican, if Ron Paul doesn't win the nomination I hope the party expolodes on itself in tremendous defeat. That is only way our party will get back on its original track.

    October 14, 2007 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. Ben Richter

    I agree with McCain's assessment of Romney's Republican credentials. If he doesn't agree with Republican principles, why does he claim membership in the party? It appears that Romney is simply using the party to advance his political ambitions. In fact, Romney aligns with neither party and is rejected by independents as well. Hard to imagine what the residents of little New Hampshire see in this flip-flopper!

    October 14, 2007 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  20. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    If Mitt Romney perplexes Senator John McCain; what will Vladamir Putin, Osama bin Laden, Hugo Chavez, President Achmadinejad and others do to the old boy's brain? Do the words "dazed and confused" suddenly come to mind?

    Is McCain really presidential material?

    I think not.

    October 14, 2007 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  21. matt

    The GOP race has turned into a circular firing squad. Each candidate is bound to get hit – and hit hard.

    Brownback interview

    October 14, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. scott, manchester NH

    what incredibly old,tired, boring comments sooo typical of same old same old, boring politicians...
    you want a real change in washington?..GET a woman in there, to GET some real work done and to GET rid of these sorry excuses for leaders.....and leader-wannabees.
    (the republican male track record is pathetic).

    October 14, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. Joec,Boston,MA

    Romney is a mirage but John "Amnesty" McCain along with Ted Kennedy tried to shove a chamber of commerce Amnest for illegals bill thru. And John's speach that they are our gardners,nannys, and cooks led me to ask what country I live in? They may work for him and Ted but not me!

    October 14, 2007 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. Deven, Austin TX

    McCain, ulinke Romney, is not posing as the only real Republical. CNN forgot this very important aspect of McCain's statement:

    "I think I've gotten to know the people of New Hampshire pretty well. I know that before I can win your vote, I have to win your respect. And to do that, you expect me to be honest with you about what I believe. You might not always agree with me on every issue, but I hope you know I'm not going to con you. The most important thing we have in this life is our self-respect. And I'm not going to trade mine for anyone's vote or for any office. I'm going to tell you what I believe and let the chips fall where they will. I'm confident New Hampshire Republicans feel the same way about your self-respect as I feel about mine.”

    October 14, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. James Maynard Temple, NH

    "Real Republican" makes me think of Ronald Reagan and in my opinion, if Reagan were alive today, he would be supporting the only TRUE Republican in the race, Ron Paul.
    In my opinion, the rest, including McCain, sold out the Constitution long ago.

    October 14, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
1 2 3