Romney and Guiliani Trade Barbs While Thompson Stumbles

Massachusetts’ favorite Mormon took to the stage in Dearborn, Michigan last night for a highly-anticipated GOP debate. The forum was newest candidate Fred Thompson’s chance to shine, but turned into a venue for Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani to take shots at each other.

From the Globe’s coverage:

. . . [Thompson] was stuck idling between Romney and Giuliani, who continued a weeklong spat with a dizzying exchange of numbers comparing their balance sheets while in office. . . .

They swapped their strongest words over the may or’s successful lawsuit challenging the Clinton administration’s use of the line-item veto. Romney said he believed that presidential power was not only constitutional, but also necessary to control government spending.

“You have to be honest with people,” Giuliani responded to his rival. “And you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. The line-item veto is unconstitutional. You don’t get to ‘believe’ about it; the Supreme Court has ruled on it.”

The Herald reports on the sniping over who cut taxes more:

“I’m in favor of the line item veto,” [Romney] said, adding he exercised it 844 times while governor of Massachusetts.

Romney also said that while mayor, Giuliani “fought to keep the commuter tax, which is a very substantial tax . . . on consumers coming into New York.”

Giuliani responded that spending fell in New York while he was mayor, and rose in Massachusetts while Romney was governor.

“The point is that you’ve got to control taxes. I did it, he didn’t. . . . I led, he lagged.”

“It’s all baloney,” retorted Romney. “I did not increase taxes in Massachusetts. I lowered taxes.”

MSNBC reviews Romney’s performance:

If the debate has legs for anyone, it will be for Romney — and that may not be a good thing. If there was a gaffe committed by any candidate it was Romney’s answer on Iran when he said he’d have consult attorneys before anyone else before deciding whether to unilaterally go after Iran’s nuclear facility. One can picture the attack adds now. . .

Romney did get in a great shot at Thompson, the Law & Order actor, “It has a huge cast, the series seems to go on forever, and Fred Thompson shows up at the end.” To which Thompson replied, “And to think I thought I was going to be the best actor on the stage.”

We couldn’t have said it any better.