(CNN) – Republican John McCain’s campaign responded to a statement by rival Mitt Romney that there was "no way" the Arizona senator could claim to be a candidate of change by sending reporters a 2002 quote in which he said McCain “has always represented change.”
“There’s no way that Sen. McCain is going to be able to come to New Hampshire and say that he’s the candidate that represents change - that he’ll change Washington. He is Washington,” Romney said on the campaign trail Friday.
Shortly afterwards, the McCain camp circulated comments Romney made when he was running for governor of Massachusetts more than five years ago.
“One of the reasons the people of America honor Sen. McCain and why I'm so proud to have him standing with me today is that he has brought American values to the debate on the issues we care about,” Romney said at the time. “He has always stood for reform and change.”
UPDATE: Romney campaign spokesman Kevin Madden said Friday afternoon that "Washington has not changed in the right direction during Senator McCain’s long career there.
"The legislation that McCain most expressly advocated—campaign finance reform and immigration reform—were the wrong approaches on both issues. We need more meaningful change brought about by someone with a proven record of actually turning things around."
The Romney campaign also emailed a newspaper account of some of McCain's own 2002 comments, in which he praised then-gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney as an individual with the "honesty and integrity who will make the tough decision based on what's best for the state and not the individual. That's the theme of Mitt Romney's campaign, and if that message gets across he's going to be fine."
–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand