January 31st, 2008
07:15 PM ET
14 years ago

Romney accuses McCain of Nixon-era tactics

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/01/31/romney.ap/art.romney.ca.ap.jpg caption=" Mitt Romney holds a bust of Ronald Reagan during a campaign stop in Fountain Valley, California."]LONG BEACH, California (CNN) - After a harsh exchange between John McCain and Mitt Romney at CNN’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Romney told CNN Thursday that McCain was using tactics “reminiscent of the Nixon era.”

In recent days McCain has accused Romney of supporting timetables for troop withdrawals from Iraq based on an interview from April 2007. Romney is, in fact, against troop withdrawals and he was referring rather to timetables and milestones for Iraq as a whole. McCain started leveling the charge just days before the Florida primary and senior Romney advisors believe it helped contribute to a loss in the state.

“I think [McCain] took a sharp detour off the Straight Talk Express by stooping to the attack he did,” Romney told CNN’s John King. “Had he a question about this he could have raised it any time between April and now, but to raise it outside of a debate and to do it in a way which blasted out to people in Florida was something reminiscent of the Nixon era and I don't think I want to see our party go back to that kind of campaigning.”

Lately, Romney has been trying to paint McCain as a liberal-leaning Republican, often talking about pieces of legislation McCain has worked on with Democrats.

Romney aides say they were buoyed after seeing in exit polls that Florida conservatives rallied around Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is now trying to create a distinct line in the GOP with himself on the right and McCain closer to the center. “I think there's going to be a real battle here for which way the Republican Party's going to head,” Romney told reporters Thursday.

Romney was dealt a blow Wednesday night when it was announced California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be endorsing McCain. “I don't think anyone here would be surprised by Gov. Schwarzenegger's endorsement of Sen. McCain. Their views on a number of issues are very similar.” Then adding, “Gov. Schwarzenegger obviously is a big figure in California and I'd love to have had his support.”

California is the biggest of the Super Tuesday states. Romney is campaigning here before heading to Colorado, Utah (for the funeral of the president of the Mormon Church) and Minnesota in the coming days.

There has been much speculation about the future of Romney’s campaign because no ad time had been bought in Super Tuesday states. But the campaign launched their first ad in California Thursday, and Romney told reporters he had authorized a “seven-figure advertising buy,” though he did not specify where the ads would be placed.

Romney said the delay had come because the campaign needed time to look at how the 21 February 5 states select a candidate, where he stands, and what the fallout would be from Rudy Giuliani pulling out of the race. He said the campaign then split up the states into three categories – strong, highly-competitive and long-shot.

The focus going forward will be “on those we think we’ve got a great chance of picking up, and a few of the competitive states. And then, of course, you look at where the delegates are.”

- CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt


Filed under: John McCain • Mitt Romney
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Catherine

    I do not like Romney buying the presidency ... certainly any rich man can buy advertising, but this should not be allowed

    January 31, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  2. Doug

    The battle between Romney and McCain continues... last night in the debate while the top two candidates argued over the timetable of Iraq; Romney accused McCain of dirty tactics. What was interesting to watch was the body language of McCain. He looked like a school boy who threw a sucker punch and while both candidates were sitting in the principal’s office McCain who committed the crime could not stop smirking and defying him by telling Romney yea I know I was wrong, all of America knows I am wrong but I am not going to tell you I am wrong...

    Seems like we have heard this before, we all knew that Bill Clinton had sex with "that woman" but yet he looked right in the eyes of America and told us he did not have sex with "that woman"... Clinton, a master of deception pulled it off very gracefully... McCain does not have the charisma to lie to America and to get away with it.

    January 31, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  3. John, Burlington MA

    McCain is as arrogant as they come. The guy will stab the American public in the back when he gets power. McCain is a fossil – a product of the Cold War. He should stay in the past. Romney represents economic security, and that IS our highest national security priority.

    January 31, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  4. Josh

    McCain's comments were petty and false. I've lost all respect for him through this campagn.

    I also find it very telling that all of the liberal media, and the liberal republicans (Arnold, Rudy, . . . ) are all endorsing him. When the New York Times endorses a candidate that should be a clue that perhaps the person is not as republican as they want to come across.

    McCain came across as a smug bitter old nag wanting to have a nasty exchange with Romney at every moment.

    Romney on the other hand seemed level-headed and able to articulate an argument back – so which one can stand against Clinton? (You can't beat the Clintons by being smug and grumpy, they'll eat McCain alive).

    I think that it will be a sad day for republicans if McCain wins; I'm pulling hard for Romney!

    Everyone who's read the article about time-tables knows that McCain is lying outright and has been called on it by the entire press. It's a dirty trick to get us stuck with him.

    January 31, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  5. JLMEAL

    Romney lost Florida because he is dishonest, not because of McCain's honest comments.

    January 31, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  6. John S.

    McCain will just follow Bush's policies. 4 more years in Iraq. 4 more years in Afghanistan. Maybe 3 years in Iran. Tax and spend. Amnesty for Illegals. Instead of tax cuts, raise taxes.

    As Reagan pointed out, a strong America is the best deterrent against our enemies. Bush has weakened America with his useless wars. The soldier's morale is down. Suicide amongst soldiers is up. The 3000+ dead is only a partial part of the story. So many are coming back wounded, with mental health problems, ...

    Gasoline prices are increasing, health care costs are soaring, unemployment is rising, etc.

    We need someone who can fix the ECONOMY. Mitt Romney 08

    February 1, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. David Anderson

    John McCain has his faults, but at least he is not a dishonest, underhanded weasel who spent his life trying to take money out of other people's pockets and put it in his own. It is a disgrace that the media are supporting the attempt of Mitt Romney to buy the Presidency.

    Better than either is Mike Huckabee, who has been dismissed by the media from day one. The American people need to get together behind Huckabee. He is the only Republican that could win the general election. He is not affiliated with the Bush era and has great ideas about what needs to be done to save this country from the establishment that has concentrated too much wealth in too few hands.

    February 2, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. David Anderson

    John McCain has his faults, but at least he is not a dishonest, underhanded weasel who spent his life trying to take money out of other people's pockets and put it in his own. It is a disgrace that the media are supporting the attempt of Mitt Romney to buy the Presidency.

    Better than either is Mike Huckabee, who has been dismissed by the media from day one. The American people need to get together behind Huckabee. He is the only Republican that could win the general election. He is not affiliated with the Bush era and has great ideas about what needs to be done to save this country from the establishment that has concentrated too much wealth in too few hands.

    February 2, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  9. Russell schokman

    McCain tends to be dishonest when debating and Romney tends to flip flop, not much of a real choice!!. Where is Ron Paul at this point,or even the tooth fairy!!

    February 2, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |