The Republican candidates are taking the gloves off.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Republican presidential race continued its brutal turn Tuesday in key early primary states, with Mitt Romney's campaign leading the pack.
The former Massachusetts governor’s campaign kept up its assault on Mike Huckabee’s immigration record, following on its Monday release of a negative Iowa ad with a new mailer in South Carolina that took aim at the rest of the major GOP contenders.
The Romney mailer was the first negative drop from any presidential campaign in that state.
The literature blasts former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for allegedly turning a blind eye on immigration enforcement during his tenure, and accuses former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson of inaction on the issue.
Huckabee comes in for special criticism, receiving a big red stamp of disapproval reading, "Supports De Facto Amnesty."
Recent polls have shown that immigration is a top concern for Republicans in both Iowa and South Carolina. Much of the information in the mailer was also sent to national reporters covering the presidential campaign.
Meanwhile, Thompson – who yesterday attacked Huckabee for his past support for lifting the embargo on Cuba – again criticized the new top-tier candidate, with a release that managed to take a swipe at Romney as well. Titled “Huckabee Takes a Page From the Romney Playbook,” it accused Huckabee of reversing his position on the embargo.
Recent polls have shown Huckabee surging to the front of the presidential primary field.
- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand