Romney fights dirty as polls suggest lead is slippingEwen MacAskill in
Friday December 28, 2007
One of the frontrunners in the 2008 presidential race, Mitt Romney, opted for a risky strategy today by running negative television adverts against his fast-rising Republican rival John McCain.
With less than a week to the first real test, the caucus in
Until now candidates in both the Democratic and Republican races for the nomination, though making personal attacks in speeches and at press conferences, have resisted negative advertising, apart from Romney. He has used similar negative campaigning against another rival, Mike Huckabee.
As the candidates returned from a 48-hour break over Christmas, the Democratic race appears to be tight in
Romney, who has spent millions more on advertising than his Republican rivals, most of it from his personal fortune, aired an advert that focused on McCain's position on immigration and tax. Immigration is a touchstone issue for Republicans, who are opposed to legalising the position of an estimated 12-20 million immigrants living in the country. McCain earlier this year made a joint approach with the Democrats in the senate to offer them a route to citizenship, an attempt that failed.
Romney's campaign literature shows himself standing at the border with
The ad aired today has pictures of McCain and Romney and says: "There is a difference." It adds: "John McCain, an honourable man. But is he the right Republican for the future?" This is an apparent reference to McCain's age: he would be 72 on entering the Oval Office.
The ad goes on: "McCain opposes repeal of the death tax. And voted against the Bush tax cuts - twice. McCain pushed to let every illegal immigrant stay here permanently. Even voted to allow illegals to collect social security."
Romney has spent $6.5m (£3.26m) on more than 8,000 advertising spots in
A poll for the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News today put Huckabee, the Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor, in the lead with 37%, with Romney on 23% and McCain on 11%. Rudy Giuliani was in single figures.
But the race could be closer than the figures suggest. McCain has done little campaigning in Iowa, concentrating instead on New Hampshire, where the first primary is to be held on January 8 and where Huckabee may not enjoy as much support as in Iowa.
In the Democratic race Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are neck and neck in