October 14th, 2007
11:27 AM ET
14 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.

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- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

Filed under: John McCain • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • Race to '08
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Virginia Brock, Rock Island, IL

    The Republican principles of smaller government, balanced budgets, and trading with nations instead of warring with them – are not represented by any of what the media considers the "top tier" and are represented best by Ron Paul.

    When "leaders" in both parties no longer see a problem with perpetual war, wiretapping American citizens and forcing people to work through April to pay for the interest on an out of control national debt – it's time for a REVOLUTION.

    Ron Paul 2008

    October 14, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. Jonathan Hattiesburg, MS

    This entire interchange is rather humorous. Paul Tsongas in 92 was probably as conservative as John McCain was in 2000.

    Also, note the irony in a man whose support for campaign finance reform and immigration reform was lambasted by most of his party, and THEN professes to speak for mainline Republicans. Giggle.

    October 14, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. Charles in Utah

    Let's see if we've got this straight… The greatest security issue we face is the threat to our security from an ideology that: 1) Believes it and it alone possesses all of God's (Allah's) truth; 2) That all other faiths are wrong and therefore under God's (Allah's) condemnation or judgement; 3) That it knows the above to be true because it and it alone is privy to a collection of scripture produced by a post-Christian era prophet that tells them so; and 4) That the purpose of life on earth is to dedicate all of one's heart, might, mind and strength to the building up and sustaining of this system of faith, so that it might come to govern every inhabitant of the entire earth.
    Sounds remarkably like Romney's Mormon faith (with its Book of Mormon, given to them by Joseph Smith), which teaches that the LDS faith alone contains all truth (and that all other faiths are at best incomplete, at worst an abomination to God), and that the destiny of the LDS Church is to become the physical government of Christ on earth.
    Maybe we should elect Mitt, after all. It would be interesting to see what sort of arrangement he might be able to work out with Osama.

    October 14, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  4. Charles in Utah

    Quite perplexing, Mitt Romney's stance on the line item veto issue. LDS (which Brother Mitt professes to be a staunch member of) generally believe as Joseph Smith taught: that the U.S. Constitution is divinely inspired - on the same level as scripture, basically. The U.S. Constitution does not authorize a line item veto, and such a thing has been repeatedly deemed to be unconstitutional. As a matter of interest, the constitution of the Confederate State of America (1861) DID have a clause permitting a line item veto.
    C'mon, Brother Mitt - start being honest with us.

    October 14, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  5. mike, san antonio, texas


    October 14, 2007 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  6. bitebybyte

    Is this the beginning of a lovely inf-ight in which our beloved "ruling" party "goes to war" with itself to find out who's the "most pure?" Can't wait to see it happen... With the Republicans out of the way, we can proceed to create a much better duopolopy - the "conservative" Democrats and the "liberal" Greens.

    October 14, 2007 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  7. scott, manchester NH

    (i sincerely hope CNN does not delete this because i've already commented)
    to all of you Ron Paul supporters: why is it that you are relying SO heavily on "what a great guy he is" for a job in the WH...yet you simply ignore the issue of ELECTABILITY,which is the ONLY thing that really matters on voting day...the MATH is what ultimately determines who gets elected, and it is an absolute statistical FACT of life that ron paul stands absolutely ZERO chance of getting the electoral OR popular vote; remember Mr. Nader?...that flake muddied the waters badly in 2000.
    why is it that just a little common sense cannot prevail in an election; its a no-brainer that ron paul will NEVER see the White House in THIS life, so get OVER it!

    October 15, 2007 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  8. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Yawn. McCain, Bush apologist: who cares what a tinny arf dog has to say?

    October 15, 2007 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  9. Matt, Utica Michigan

    Scott Of Manchester,

    Ron Paul might be a long shot but atleast I finally feel good about voting for someone. This is the first time in the 10 years I could vote that I am actually excited about voting. Even if Ron Paul does not win I want to show my support for the Revolution.

    October 15, 2007 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  10. joe in NY

    its the old "join the Revolution" argument,just like we've heard in so many elections. well, your so-called revolution goes nowhere if the person leading it...is going nowhere.

    October 15, 2007 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  11. Stephen, Tallahassee Florida

    It is nice that the Republicans are now starting to separate on issues, but in the end no matter who wins the nomination they are still better than "She who must not be named"

    October 15, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  12. Mike, Alexandria VA

    McCain has this right... What exactly does Mitt stand for? What is his history? Does he have any issue that he has not flip-flopped on just to win political favor?

    October 15, 2007 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  13. Ryan Indiananpolis

    As a republican , i am pretty sick of Romney, the guy just rubs me the wrong way...RUDY 08

    October 15, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. Will, NYC, NY

    Keep trying John and Fred. The two old men who want to be President. sheesh.

    October 15, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
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