One thing is clear after watching the CNN Western Republican Debate: Mitt Romney and Rick Perry would have an awkward Thanksgiving Dinner together at this point. The battle between the two took a hard pivot into the realm of turning off some voters who may want candidates to disagree and argue on policy yet remain friends at the end of the day. Essentially they’re both calling each other liars now over various issues but coating it with terms like “dishonest” and “disingenuous.” Using the term “liar” in a campaign ad usually tends to backfire.
Report from Politico:
Rick Perry and Mitt Romney escalated their fight to a new level Thursday, as the campaigns of both men accused their primary rival of being deceitful.
The Texas governor’s campaign released a dramatic one-minute Web video that portrays Romney as a dishonest flip-flopper and career politician.
It highlights Romney’s response to Perry’s criticism that he once employed illegal aliens as landscapers through a contractor. “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals,” he said in Tuesday’s debate, recounting what he told the landscaping company.
It also accuses the former Massachusetts governor of disingenuously changing his position on health care and adamantly refusing to acknowledge as much.
“You can’t lead a nation by misleading the people,” a display on the screen says at the end of Perry’s ad, which was first reported on by POLITICO’s Morning Score.
The Romney campaign, meanwhile, rolled out a fleshed-out version Thursday morning of a website they are calling careerpolitician.com, which paints Perry as the real career politician in the race and links him to President Barack Obama.
Items on the site — previewed in Morning Score before it went live — fault Perry for giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, accuse him of planning to dismantle Social Security and question his claims about job creation.
“Rick Perry has proven time and again that he will resort to dishonest tactics in order to prop up his flailing campaign,” said Romney communications director Gail Gitcho in a statement. “He’s taken a page from the Al Gore playbook on fabrications and distortions.”
“Whether deflecting attention from his own record through personal attacks, utter fabrications or intentional distortions, it’s hard to know how much lower Perry will go,” she added.
Clearly both men have their faults in the eyes of GOP primary voters, however, what we’re witnessing is not unlike the animosity between the campaign of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008. All bets are off and no topic is out of bounds if it means the chance to squeak ahead in the minds of voters. Perry and Romney both risk going too far and coming off the wrong way in a personal sense.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich has taken the opportunity to position himself above the fray according to the Miami Herald:
The idea man of the Republican presidential primary, Newt Gingrich, pours out a little acid tonight on Fox’s Hannity show. Some excerpts:
On the exchanges between Presidential Candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry during last night’s debate:
“Once or twice last night the level of intensity, particularly between Romney and Perry got to be almost like 7th graders at a school yard. And I felt very uncomfortable and I thought it hurt the entire Republican Party.”
On the tension during last night’s debate:
“It’s very important for us to remember. The goal of this effort is to defeat Barack Obama and get America back on the right track. The goal of this project isn’t to have one ego or ambition over another. The goal is to , and then go get beaten by the President because we’ve beaten each other up so much.”
We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks as new polling data is gather and released. The greatest benefactors of Tuesday’s debate have to be Cain, Gingrich, Paul and Bachmann. Santorum did well also but isn’t anywhere in the polls that show he has a real chance to topple the front runners.