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Mitt Romney plays softball at the GOP debate

Mitt Romney must have read today's New York Times article that probed why his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination seem to especially dislike him. That's because, presented with an early opportunity at tonight's candidate debate in Florida to recycle faults he's found in two of his opponents, he decided to play nice.

Meanwhile, his vigilant campaign team made sure, through e-mails, that John McCain would catch at least some grief.

The debate began on friendly ground for Romney, with questions about the nation's economic problems and how he would address them. Much as he tried -- with mixed success -- virtually all of last year to persuade his party that his conversion to conservative positions on abortion, gay marriage and the like was sincere, much as he tried to show he would be tough on fighting terrorism by refusing to disavow waterboarding as an interrogation technique, his business background makes the economy the subject he is most comfortable talking about.

As part of the discussion, co-moderator Tim Russert noted that Romney had criticized McCain and Rudy Giuliani as, based on their records, insufficiently committed to tax cuts. Russert asked if Romney ...

trusted the two "on the issue of being tax cutters?"

Romney -- projecting a kinder, gentler persona than he has at previous debates -- cut the pair some slack.

"I trust these two gentlemen and I respect them greatly," he said. "We do have differing views, and over time our record with regards to taxes has been somewhat different.  But I think all of us on this stage want to see taxes brought down and want to see (government) spending brought down."

His answer may have set the tone for what continued to be a low-key, highly civil forum (especially in contrast to the Democratic face-off earlier this week).

During the focus on economics, Russert asked McCain about a remark attributed to him: "I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated."

McCain replied: "Actually, I don't know where you got that quote from. I'm very well versed in economics."

Within minutes, the well-oiled Romney camp was out with its e-mail, citing this McCain quote from a 2005 article in (written by Stephen Moore, an anti-tax advocate): 'I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated."

The e-mail also cited a more recent Boston Globe article with this McCain quote: "The issue
of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should."

Romney has spent a lot of money -- much of it from his own pocket; exactly how much, he declined later in the debate to reveal -- on his campaign. Whatever he spent on his war room was worth it on this night.

-- Don Frederick


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John "DoubleTalk" McCain foolishly tried to make Russert look like he was fabricating a quote for one of the debate questions.

Or at 71, maybe it was just the senator's age getting to him when he denied it and said he didn't know where Russert got it.

Let me help. New York Times, Jan. 14, page 25.

The quote also appeared in a number of other publications, including the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Centre Daily Times, Chattanooga Times, and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

"The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should," McCain said earlier this month, as though the subject wasn't that important. "I've got Greenspan's book."

So, why do the other candidates hate Mitt Romney? Several reasons:
1. He can win. Governor Romney appeals to economic conservatives and could appeal to foreign policy conservatives based upon his understanding of the issues. Most non-partisan foreign policy wonks who have briefed the major candidates tell me that Romney "gets it" better than any other candidate -- even better than those who have held high profile office for decades. Moreover, he is the candidate that the Democrats most fear.
2. Jealousy -- from his hair to his appearance to his family to his money - these are all reasons for deep-seated, if unseemly, jealousy. This green-eyed monster makes its appearance in almost every speech or presentation, in the form of a joke, a jab or a veiled reference.
3. He isn't beholden to interest groups. Governor Romney's wealth frees him from any influence that interest groups could apply to others - especially those who lack funds or who are Washington insiders. He doesn't need them, and that scares the interest groups and their allies. He is not of the game and wants to change it - and his personal wealth allows him to do so. He really can change Washington.
4. His brains - not only is he one of the smartest people ever to seek the presidency (having earned a Harvard MBA and JD simultaneously), but he understands the complexities of the issues that America faces and is able to devise workable solutions. Just look at his proposal for an economic stimulus and compare it to what the other candidates are proposing. Romney clearly can lead this country through economic challenges.
5. His wealth -- again. While he has raised more than any other candidate, Governor Romney doesn't need to raise the money in order to continue. Nevertheless, he understands that successful candidates must have people invested in their candidacy in order to succeed. He has learned the lessons of past wealthy businessmen who make vanity runs for the White House. The other candidates have to constantly raise money in order to continue their campaigns.
6. His experience. The rest of the Republican field has been in politics in one form or another for most of their adult lives. Governor Romney came to public service after having a successful career in which he directly created jobs, saved jobs, invested in new companies and turned around failed businesses. He even fixed both the Olympics and the failing state of Massachusetts. More than any other candidate, Governor Romney's experience is most directly applicable to the average American's situation.
7. He believes that America's best days are ahead of it, and not a memory. Governor Romney is a man of the future, not of the past. He sees America as a beacon of freedom for the entire world, and not a country limping toward its last days. His infectious optimism is informed by his business experience, his love of country and his family values. His can-do spirit is the antidote to defeatism masked as "straight talk" or "reality."
8. His beliefs. When all else fails, Governor Romney's opponents attack his religion in the hopes of sowing fear and loathing. Not only is this unseemly, but it is dangerous. We have seen this type of rhetoric before - in the 1920's and 1930's - from the likes of Henry Ford and Father Caughlin and others who sought to disenfranchise whole segments of the American population. Governor Romney believes in the common American faith of democracy and religious freedom, as he so eloquently stated in his speech "Faith in America." These are the values our Founding Fathers codified in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Why do the Republican candidates hate him? Because they don't have any answers to his challenges. They seek to undermine him by using personal attacks more worthy of a middle school playground than a presidential contest. This is politics and Washington as usual, and choosing any candidate that employs these tactics will only get us more of the same. One would hope that Americans could see beyond these base attacks and choose the candidate who is best for the country - Governor Mitt Romney.
Amy D. Goldstein is an occasional contributor to American Thinker.

Mitt really showed how excited he is for the general election. Maybe he's putting the carriage before the horse, but this guy ran a great campaign in the primaries, and he can do the same in the general election against the Democrat!

Dr. Paul has a workable plan to revive the economy.

I`m so agree of your opinion about gov-romney, when i watched the depbate today, i finally find someone so i can wote to, me n my family were so undecide, n when i watched the depbate, oh ny gosh, he brought up to most important point about what happen in washington, i now he got our vote, i hope people needs to stop hate, n also your right why his canditate hate him, his smart n he has a vision for people in american....anyway thanks for msnbc for the debate.. make sure dont touch the hair hahah,,,,,,from tom...

Could it be that everybody are treating each other more nicely in the debates because they are looking ahead and want each other's support as candidates start dropping out of the race? As it looks like a brokered convention is possible, maybe they want to stop the attacks so it would be less awkward in the summer at Minneapolis-St Paul when someone asks, "Hey, do you mind if released your delegates to support me? Yeah, I remember when I called you a liar and horrible awful monster but that was just in the heat of the moment." or "Yeah, I totally want to be your Vice President!! Oh, just forget how I attacked you as a flip flopping, puppy kicking Commie traitor. Thanks."

get real people- Mister “born withe the silver spoon in my mouth and will say most anything to get elcted Romney——Bain Capital is one of these international sell out groups that buy US businesses and then take a buzzsaw to them and clean out all of the american workers and ship the jobs overseas to be replaced by cheaper labor. Period. As a result the company saves money and their stocks go up and all the boys on Wall street are happy…at the expense of the american workers and because of GREED. Some corporate “TURNAROUND” artist. WAKE UP people the democrats will expose MITT for the shameless corporate Shill that HE is if he gets the nomination.
Governor Huckabee is BY FAR more in touch with all levels of socitety, bY FAR THE MOST GENUINE, BY FAR THE BEST COMMUNICATOR THAT WILL THAT WILL BE ABLE TO DEFEAT THE DEMOCRATS at their own game…gOVERNOR HUCKABEE IS scaring the SH** out of the CORPORATE FAT CAT REPUBLICANS ESTABLISHMENT TYPES BECAUSE HE IS EXPOSING THEM FOR THE SHAMELESS SELLOUTS THAT THEY ARE…THEY COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY or about keeping jobs here…they do not give a SH** about the worker american or otherwise all they care about is profit…. period.

Tim, you represent your candidate well. While presenting himself as a "Christian" Huckabee is actually filled with hate fueled by jealousy, envy, and predjudice against anyone unlike himself (i.e. successful business people, people with differing religious beliefs, and people who live outside the south). Huckabee could never unite the party with his rhetoric.

Yes Romney is rich, but he doesn't have to answer to special interest groups because he can finance his own campaign. I think he is truly a family man with decent values. Heck, he's still on his first wife and his 5 boys like him enough to help him on the campaign trail! McCain turned in his first wife for a younger model, even after she stuck with him and ran the family while he was a POW. His kids from the first marriage were devestated when he dumped their mom. I won't even mention how Juliani treated his many wives. He has kids that won't even talk to him!

Romney rocked the debate last night. He's proven over and over again that he has what it takes to be our leader. His policies wil help turn our economy around.

Hey TOT, who do you think was behind the whispered hint for Romney during the debate last night?

who are you kidding?
Romney is only behind McCain when it comes to taking money from special interest groups. You notice whose name is missing from this list: Ron Paul's.

who are you kidding?
Romney is only behind McCain when it comes to taking money from special interest groups. You notice whose name is missing from this list: Ron Paul's.

Let us look at McCain’s conservative credentials:

-IMMIGRATION: he wrote the bill granting amnesty to illegal immigrants (co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy)
-SOCIAL SECURITY: he voted to give your social security money to illegal immigrants
-TAXES: he voted against the Bush tax cuts multiple times (he has since flip-flopped and has campaigned as a lifelong tax-cutter)
-RHETORIC: he routinely engages in Democratic class warfare against big companies in America, particularly the “evil” drug companies who research cures to debilitating diseases for a profit
-ECONOMY: as recently as December 2007 he admitted “he does not know the economy very well” and needed to get better at it
-1ST AMENDMENT: he wrote the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that was declared to be an unconstitutional infringement of the 1st Amendment (co-sponsored by ultra-liberal Democrat Russ Feingold)
-2ND AMENDMENT: he was called the “worst 2nd amendment candidate” by the president of the NRA
-ENERGY TAX: wrote a bill (co-sponsored by his buddy Lieberman) imposing a massive tax on energy which, according to the Department of Energy, would drastically raise the price of gasoline and put 300,000 Americans out of work
-GLOBAL WARMING: supports radical global warming legislation which involved him voting with every Democrat; think only America is responsible to take action, not other superpowers
-JUDGES: he joined forces with Democrats (Gang of 14) to block the Senate Republican’s attempt to confirm conservative, strict constructionist judges
-WAR ON TERROR: fought with Hillary Clinton to demand that terrorists be given a full American trial
-GAY MARRIAGE: he joined liberals to fight against a federal marriage amendment supporting the institution of traditional marriage
-CHRISTIANS: campaigning in 2000, he famously described Christian leaders as “agents of intolerance”
-PRO-LIFE: he filed an amicus brief against pro-life advocates in Wisconsin
-BI-PARTISANSHIP: he met with leading Democrats in 2004 to discuss the possibility of being John Kerry’s Vice-President
-PROFESSIONAL ETHICS: ringleader of the infamous Keating 5 ethical scandal which cost US tax payers $160 billion (Google it)
-PERSONAL ETHICS: McCain cheated on his first wife after she had a severe accident that left her partially disabled. He then divorced her and married his multi-millionaire mistress, whose daddy bought McCain a spot in the Congress


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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