Friday, November 30, 2007

Republicans eat their own in increasingly nasty race

WASHINGTON — Remember Ronald Reagan's famed 11th commandment, do not speak ill of fellow Republicans? It looks as if this year's presidential candidates have forgotten it.

At Wednesday's CNN/YouTube debate, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani accused former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney of running a "sanctuary mansion" because Romney had illegal immigrants doing yard work at his home. Earlier in the week, Giuliani's campaign manager called Romney a "mediocre one-term governor."

Romney has lambasted Giuliani's judgment in hiring as police commissioner Bernie Kerik, who was indicted on corruption charges recently. Both candidates routinely accuse each other of resembling Hillary Clinton, perhaps the unkindest cut of all among Republicans.

To be sure, there have always been occasional edgy skirmishes in Republican primary campaigns: "Stop lying about my record," Kansas Sen. Bob Dole snarled to George H.W. Bush in 1988. A vicious whispering campaign against Arizona Sen. John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 suggested that McCain was crazy and the father of an illegitimate black child. (The author of that campaign was never identified, but it helped save George W. Bush's candidacy.)

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