NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Election Connection

January 6, 2008

Huckabee, McCain take aim at Romney in GOP debate

MANCHESTER – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took fire from all directions in last night’s fast-moving Republican presidential debate.

Romney, the one-time frontrunner now fighting for his political life in New Hampshire, withstood attacks from both Mike Huckabee and John McCain, his chief rival in the Granite State.

During one exchange on foreign policy, Romney became upset with Huckabee, who beat him out for the top spot in Thursday’s Iowa caucuses.

“Governor, don’t try to characterize my position,” Romney said.

“Which one?” Huckabee retorted, seizing on Romney’s reputation for changing his mind on issues ranging from abortion to firearms.

McCain, who has passed Romney in the latest poll of New Hampshire voters, accused Romney of being disingenuous in his television commercials.

“My friend, you can spend your whole fortune on these attack ads, but it still won’t be true,” the Arizona senator said.

President Bush’s decision to preemptively invade Iraq emerged as one of the most volatile issues in last night’s debate, which also included Ron Paul, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani.

Moderator Charles Gibson started the 90-minute discussion with a question about the Iraq war, asking the candidates if they would run on or away from Bush’s war policies. He then asked McCain directly if he supports the idea that America has the right to start wars against other nations.

McCain said he agrees with preemptive attacks, but then quickly changed the subject to praise Bush for the fact that terrorists have not hit the U.S. since Sept. 11.

Paul said he opposes preemptive attacks, and said the Bush doctrine is not a “minor” change for the U.S.

“This is huge,” he said. “This is the first time we accept we start the wars.”

Paul differed sharply with the rest of the candidates over the connection between U.S. foreign policy and the terrorist attacks and said the presence of U.S. bases on foreign soil and the policy was bankrupting the U.S. by rewarding nation’s which accept our ideas with money and punishing the ones that oppose us by threats of war.

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