Romney, Facing Criticism, Turns Tables On Perry

HANOVER, N.H. (AP) – Hours before he expected to fend off sharp criticism from his Republican rivals, presidential contender Mitt Romney turned the tables on Texas Gov. Rick Perry and called on him to disavow comments from an ally who likened his faith to a “cult.”

Romney urged the Texas governor to reject “divisiveness” and called on Perry “to repudiate the sentiment and the remarks.” Perry, through a spokesman, declined and said Romney’s remarks represent “political rhetoric from Gov. Romney that isn’t going to create one new job.”

If the afternoon exchange were a clue, the evening debate could be a spirited back-and-forth between the pair, as well as an opportunity for the other White House hopefuls to level a devastating blow to the former Massachusetts governor on his home turf.

Health care, the environment and immigration all were ripe targets for Romney’s rivals, and they hinted they were primed to contrast their records with his ahead of Tuesday evening’s debate. With time ticking down for them to derail Romney’s presidential campaign, the criticism was expected to take on a stronger tone.

“Gov. Romney personally insisted the government mandate requiring private citizens to buy health insurance be included in his Massachusetts government health care law,” said Mark Miner, a spokesman for Perry, seizing on conservatives’ disdain for Massachusetts’ mandate.

“It is becoming more and more clear that I am the only tried-and-true conservative running for president in 2012,” former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania told supporters ahead of the forum at Dartmouth College.

With the Republican presidential race moving closer to the first contests, scheduled around New Year’s Day, the candidates are turning to a scattershot effort to deny Romney the nomination by any means necessary. They are using his reversals on abortion and gay rights, his support for environmental policies and even his character.

His rivals hope that, when taken together, it could be enough to stop his second presidential bid. Romney has a comfortable lead in New Hampshire polling after virtually camping out in the state since his 2008 loss and building a strong statewide campaign network.

The debate was designed to be on the economy — voters’ top concern in a nation that recorded 9.1 percent unemployment last month — but there was scant chance Romney would be able to dodge questions about his record.

The criticism so far, though, has not thrown Romney off pace. Nothing, to this point, has started an exodus among his supporters. And time is running short for Romney’s rivals to make that happen.

While New Hampshire has yet to schedule its primary, it is likely to come before mid-January. That means there are fewer than 100 days for the newcomers to make inroads in New Hampshire, a state where Romney is well-known, owns a vacation home and won a second-place finish in his 2008 presidential bid.

Looking to soften the criticism, Romney picked up an endorsement from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a conservative darling who had weighed a presidential bid of his own. Romney’s team used an afternoon photo opportunity to go after comments from a Perry backer last week that disparaged Romney’s Mormon faith.

Pastor Robert Jeffress of Dallas, who endorsed Perry’s presidential bid and introduced him ahead of a speech to cultural conservatives in Washington last week, contrasted Perry’s religion with Romney’s, and in comments to reporters called Mormonism “a cult” and said Romney is “not a Christian.”

Perry’s campaign said it didn’t share those views but refused to repudiate them.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, businessman Herman Cain, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were also set to join the debate.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


One Comment

  1. C Bauer says:

    Let these two career politicians fight it out. We still have a year left for a proven business leader with volumes of common sense to gain more of the national spotlight (Herman Cain).

  2. AC says:

    ALL religion is a CULT. PERIOD… I am not saying it’s a bad thing, just stating the fact of reality.

    1. William R. Peralta, Sr. says:

      How do you define a cult?

  3. arnrob says:

    Thanks, AC. It’s good to finally hear from the man who knows everything.

  4. Grahawk says:

    Ron Paul makes more sense than any of the other contenders.

    1. C Bauer says:

      He makes a lot of sense on many issues, but goes “tin foil hat wearer” on others. He never will, EVER, go anywhere close to being elected, and the bogus straw polls are just that – bogus. Hundreds of Ron Paul supporters register for these events, just to vote in the straw poll, and then turn around and leave. Total sham, just like Ron Paul.

  5. j love says:

    Hey Mitt Rommney and Rick Perry.. I just heard that Herman Cain is running because the democrats and blacks realize that obummer will not be reelected and they need a black to replace him. Hey, MItt, Rick, please don’t let Cain win,
    my friends and I have had it with the blacks and their racism.
    Thanks guys,

  6. Sick Of Liars says:

    Its Time We Put A Real Hard Working American In Office,These Millionaires Are So Out Of Touch With Real Americans Its Time We Send Every One Of Them Back Home To Their Mansions!!!!!!!!! Just Say No To All Career Politicians, They All Got Us Where We Are To Day, Democrats And Republicans Share Equally!!!!!! Not One Of Them Even Have A Clue!!!!!!!!!!

    1. C Bauer says:

      Not all millionaires are out of touch. Just the multimillionaire and centimillionaire career politicians. I’ll take a self-made tycoon who knows the value of hard work over any one of those jackanapes who claim to represent us

  7. Peter Jenkins says:

    J love you are a joke or an idiot?

    1. C Bauer says:

      The latter.

  8. DDT says:

    You should amend that. HE is an idiot, his WANG is a joke. Ask his wife.

  9. Nick says:

    I’ll take the guy who came from nothing and knows how business is run successfully, over the career politicians. Give’em Cain!

    1. CSB says:

      YEAH YEAH!!!!! I ordered my Cain merch today and joined local groups on Cain’s web site.

  10. Nick says:

    Perry lost his campaign when people realized he’s soft on illegal immigration. He’ll never recover the conservative vote…

    1. CSB says:

      He lost my conservative vote over the immunizations issue way back when. I dropped all support of him like a hot rock right that day.

      1. CSB says:

        …plus the illegal immigration issue.

  11. Ed Smith says:

    The Koch brothers own Cain, created Cain, hired his campaign staff, and wrote his 666 tax sham. The man is a clueless empty suit that throws McDonald’s slogans about instead of having anything intelligent to say. His tax plan will raise the income tax on 90% of Americans which includes all the middle class and poor while giving the super rich a free pass with zero capital gains tax. That is where the super rich make all their money. That is why the Koch brothers wrote it for him. His consumption tax is an additional sales tax that will more than double our slaes tax and kill the economy because people will drastically cut down on consumer spending, manufacturing will follow suit and jobs after that. That is exactly what the Koch brothers want. It makes it so they can buy companies out for a song and dominate the world economy. Cain is the biggest puppet in the history of politics. No other candidate has been o owned by one entity than he is. Bleep Cain and his half wit supporters that couldn’t buy a clue if you gave them a quarter. Go take a basic economics and accounting class Cain. MBA’s in business administartion are useless. Then learn something about foreign policy. Cain…what a joke!

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