MIAMI, Florida (CNN) – This weekend, John McCain accused Mitt Romney of supporting a timetable for troop withdrawals from Iraq - a move that temporarily deflected attention from fiscal issues back onto national security issues.
On Sunday, Romney tried to change the subject back to the economy, an issue where he holds an advantage over McCain, his main Republican rival in Florida.
“That's yesterday's news," Romney told reporters following his campaign. "I understand he's anxious to try and see if he can't get the topic away from the economy, but I'm going to remind him of his statements time and again about his lack of understanding of the economy.”
On Saturday, McCain accused Romney of telling an interviewer in April 2007 that he favors a secret timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq. In fact, Romney said the United States and Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki should discuss the possibility of private milestones and timetables for Iraq.
“Well, he's lying. he's dishonest. He's being dishonest in that regard,” Romney said Sunday. Asked if he was calling the Arizona senator a liar, he responded, “No, I'm not. He made a dishonest comment, I misspoke."
The former Massachusetts governor and his campaign have remained relatively mum on the back and forth, only addressing it when directly asked by reporters. With only two days to go before the crucial Florida primary and in a dead heat with McCain, a foreign policy debate is the last discussion Romney wants.
On the stump, Romney’s almost singular focus on the economy and insistence as the issue most important to voters seems to be resonating as voters fret over a faltering economy and jittery markets. He often reminds crowds of his decades of business experience, and draws a distinction between his mastery of the subject, and McCain's limited experience in the area.
“No one needs to give me a briefing on the economy. I won't need to choose a vice president that understands the economy because I know the economy," Romney told a Miami crowd Sunday.
– CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt