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amd_romney-mccain.jpgORLANDO, Fla. — Sharp words and cutting attacks were flying between presidential wanna-bes – and at Hillary Clinton – during Sunday night’s Republican debate. Front-runners Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney were the natural targets, getting attacked fairly early by their fellow candidates. “You’ve just spent the last year trying to fool people about your record. I don’t want you to start fooling them about mine,” Sen. John McCain jabbed at Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson turned Giuliani into his target, saying the former New York mayor supported federal funding for abortion, gun control and havens for illegal immigrants. “He sides with Hillary Clinton on each of those issues,” he added. Giuliani defended himself noting he brought down crime, cleaned up Times Square, cut taxes and eliminated the city’s deficits.

“I took the crime capital of America and I turned it into the safest large city in the country,” he said. “The senator has never had executive responsibility. He’s never had the weight of people’s safety and security on his shoulders.” He then lobbed his own attack at Thompson. “Fred has problems, too,” he said. He said Thompson was the “single biggest obstacle” in the Senate to legislation limiting the ability of individuals filing lawsuits to recover unlimited damages.

Romney continued to spar with McCain, stating he was proud of his record, particularly since the state had an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature. “I fought to make sure we kept our taxes down. I fought for pro-growth strategies. I cut taxes,” he said. The candidates also made sure to launch attacks against the Democratic candidate whom the Republican candidates apparently feel will be their competition – Hillary Clinton.

“I’ve been very critical of [Clinton],” said Giuliani, with a laugh. “I want to tell her I agree with this one. Quote, Hillary Clinton, ‘I have a million ideas; America cannot afford them all.’ I’m not making it up. I am not making it up. No kidding Hillary – American can’t afford you.”

This debate was the eighth of the campaign, and the first since Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas dropped out of the race, citing insufficient funds. The remaining rivals stood on a stage at a resort 10 miles from Disneyland, fielding questions for 90 minutes at an event broadcast by Fox News Channel.

The debate unfolded about 10 weeks before voting begins for Republicans. The leadoff Iowa caucuses are scheduled for Jan. 3, 2008, and the approaching primary season has coincided with a distinct increase in rhetorical combat among the contenders.

Source: New York Daily News

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