January 29th, 2008
03:55 PM ET
15 years ago

Primary day: McCain jabs, Romney lays low

TAMPA, Florida (CNN) – After days of vicious attacks on the stump between John McCain and Mitt Romney, the Massachusetts Republican was surprisingly quiet at his only event on primary day in Florida.

Romney emphasized his usual theme of the importance of electing a president with a strong understanding of the economy, with an offhand swipe at McCain. "One of the candidates running out there said the economy is not his strong suit. Well, it's my strong suit!"

In nearby St. Petersburg, McCain wasn't as reserved, telling reporters Romney is to blame for the negative tone of the race. "Gov. Romney has been campaigning that way. He spent millions of dollars on attack ads
against Gov. Huckabee in Iowa, he spent millions of dollars in attack ads against me in new Hampshire and South Carolina. I mean that is just the way he campaigns, so we have to respond."

In a room next to Romney's rally, hundreds of people were being sworn in as American citizens. Romney has made the harms of illegal immigration one of the central themes of his campaign, but has praised the benefits of legal immigration.

Monday, he strode down the line of newly-minted American citizens waiting for passports. Most wanted their picture with the presidential candidate as he congratulated them, while some clearly didn't recognize him and others eyed him warily.

The victor of the Florida primary will move on to Super Tuesday with wind in his sails, momentum Romney will need to overcome the leads McCain has in several major February 5 states. One advantage? As four of Romney's five sons joined him on stage in Tampa, Romney said his second son Matt is already campaigning out West, "So we can win the primary next week in California!"

– CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt

Filed under: Florida • John McCain • Mitt Romney
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Jed Merrill, ConservativeRepublicans.com

    Mitt is leading nationally by 2%, a poll said this weekend, and is certainly the candidate who can best lay claim to competence. Mitt also leads among conservatives 36% to 21% nationally. The question now is can moderates mutiny against the conservatives and get the Son of Cain (McCain literal meaning) into office.

    January 29, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  2. John

    It is really simple.

    What do you want in our President???

    McCain will continue to be what he has been for 25 years. He has a proven record of what he believes and lives.

    Romney has a 25 year record of being in the real world with real problems. He has also proven through his record of what he believes and lives.

    At this point, it does not matter what they are telling us. It is how they have behaved the last 25 years.

    They are who they are.....

    McCain is almost a democrat. His voting record says so. It is public knowledge that he follows the democratic party a lot in his votes.

    Romney is a conservative and I can look beyond his religion. We all have different religions but we have learned to get along. In the Bible it states "by their fruits ye shall know them" The mormon people I know are excellent human beings, great neighbors, and citizens.

    I have decided for you Mitt.

    January 29, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  3. Dan

    McCain spoke of his economic advisors at the debate naming each one. What was scary is that they all are individuals that we knew 20-30 years ago. I doubt any of them have a clue as to today's world. This is typical McCain going to the past for answers that didn't work then and will not work now. We need new approaches, new blood and not the old guard. It is time for significant "change" and Mitt Romney is the man who can lead that change. Like others if it came down to McCain and Obama I would choose Obama even though I disagree with much of his politics. Now if it is McCain/Clinton I have no choice but to vote McCain as Clinton is someone I absolutely do not want anywhere near the White House again!

    January 29, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  4. john

    While McCain boasts of having newspaper endorsements, is he serious?
    These same newspapers ALSO have endorsed Democrats for president.

    Yet, it never occurs to him that their endorsements of him when he's
    controversial in the eyes of many Republicans is just a fly in the ointment?
    Just a way of setting him up for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton
    to defeat.? McCain, to many Republicans, is distrusted enough to keep
    many party loyalists at home come election day. Democrats are delierious
    with this prospect.

    I would be wary of such an endorsement if I were JM. It may come back
    to haunt.

    January 29, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  5. John


    How is Mitt Romney dishonest? This guy is sqeaky clean!

    The real question is .... does America deserve a person of such quality?

    His motive is to serve and to make us better. Everyone else running for President needs a job or loves the polo shirts with the Presidential Seal.

    January 29, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  6. Steph Johnson

    Dear Anonymous, Romney is as totally honorable and honest as they come. If you can't see that, then you might take a look inside yourself for the problem.

    Romney 08!!!

    January 29, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  7. Rudolf Heil

    It is disturbing to me to see Mitt Romney fiddling on economical things he really don't understand. The best I saw against his low profile to economical things is Lou Dobb's recent comment to a statement of Romney:

    Mitt Romney said in the video:

    "............... There is concern that we are going in a global recession. This is a worry if you go through the country. I can tell you that I am convinced that we don't have to be anxious then America can be strong, then our economy can lead the world as has for so many years but it gonna be to take some changes."

    End of Mitt Romney's saying and Lou Dobbs commented:

    " wowwww,
    We got a new change agent!
    I don't know what's going on but what I do know:
    We got an economy on the brink of a major disaster and we got people fiddling like fools here."

    January 29, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  8. d. howell

    No body is good enough, everyone talks veri good, when he or she get into the White House, they don't even do what they promise. Look at Bush, he sent many young people to get killed and ruined their lives forever.

    January 29, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  9. Trina

    When will the NY TIMES become a respectible newspaper again? When the twin tower's were attacked Gulliani was the man , know he is not (which he never was). Now when a photo opt comes they make up stores about Obama snubing Hiilary. When will the paper grow up. Stop siding with your favorite and give us the real news not just your side.

    A Disappointed reader

    January 29, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. James (Jim) T. Watson

    A young man (Obama) with Vision for the future is better than an old man (McCain) with 20/20 vision of the past.

    January 29, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  11. Jonathan

    Mitt Romney has flip flopped on issues more than John Kerry did in 2004. Someone doesn't just become pro-life overnight. He's a political opportunist who's only managed to win his home state of Michigan, and then Nevada where half his supporters were fellow mormons. And this is despite his efforts to buy the nomination with millions of dollars from his own coffers. He tailors his speeches to whatever crowd he's preaching too and has no experience in foriegn policy. You'd think the man was a chameleon. I for one don't care how tan he is, or how sleak his hair appears, he's still a rich and duplicious corporate executive backed by money'd interests. He has no real convictions, no integrity, and has over and again utilized his unlimited campaign funds to berate and besmirch the reputations of the other canidates. It seems that since he has nothing positive to say about himself, he can only rip into his opponents with negatice attack ads without foundation. On the other hand there's John McCain who sticks to his long held convictions no matter what the poles indicate. He's a sagacious man who fought for all of the freedoms all of us enjoy today, endured 6 years of Vienamese torture, and since being in the Senate has always put the country before the Republican Party. To me it's not about who's the most conservative, it's about who is the most qualified and sincere. Who has the most consistent record of honorable service. I supported John McCain 8 years ago and I support him today! Go McCain!

    January 29, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  12. Your Daddy

    Messila, you are one serious master of the obvious. Which Ivy league school did you attend? So what, McCain's not conservative? To win any election, you have to at least appear to be moderate. In this case, McCain, who has the most integrity out of the entire GOP field, actually is moderate.

    Since he votes his conscience, rather than being controlled by the machine, does, this bother you? Vote for Romney, since you love Bush, and you'll get four more years of his failed policies.

    January 29, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  13. Steve, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    Senato McCain complains about the tactics used in Iowa but he did not campaign here hardly at all for the caucases.. If he become the nominee he is gonna have a hard time winning our state.

    January 29, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  14. Jonathan

    Nobody cares about Iowa Steve. I hate to be the one to tell you.

    January 29, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  15. independent in Missouri

    I believe any person running for office should have to (for at least a year) get a real job, make ends meet, and actually pay for health care. That way when they say they understand what we're going through, they can actually mean it. We need to eliminate lobbyists and huge contributions from big companies-it's hard for you to make a change in America when that big company owns you with that big check they made out to you!

    January 30, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  16. scott h

    Obama better think again how important FLA is, that is a MAJOR state and he can win all the Iowa's he wants but if you can't win the big ones it don't matter. FLA spoke volumes tonight, don't ignore how important this is folks!!! SC is not a major player, never was, never will be

    January 30, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  17. PEGGY

    It is very surprising to me that Hilary has taken an add out as a way to try undermine her opponite. She declared one thing and did another. Her words and agreement with the Democratic Party stated there would be no action in Florida and then last minute putting adds stating she didnt like the agreement is out of line. Those that are Hispanic need to do their homework and look into her history as a lawyer and truely see who she helped.....She sounds more like Bush every day. If you truley want to be concerned about our COUNTRy then you may want to do some research about what other counties think about Clinton. Foriegn policy is going to be very big issue and most of the world can not stand Hillary.. It is not about you or me it is about our WORLD.... (as mcuh as we dont like to admit it) She tell us what we want to hear and then does what she wants. .......She keeps talking abut issues in the US but we have become a Global society and people need to start thinking out of the BOX. I voted for Bill twice. I was stunned that Bush was elected. I think think that President Bill Clinton made it so good that people started resting on their LAURELS..... If you dont know what the word means then you may need to rethink your view................

    January 30, 2008 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
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