Romney camp lists top 10 McCain outbursts as Florida poll votes.

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Romney camp lists top 10 McCain outbursts as Florida poll votes.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article3271708.ece
January 29, 2008

The deeply bitter and personal battle between John McCain and Mitt Romney turned even nastier today, with the Romney campaign releasing a list of his rival's alleged profanity-filled outbursts, as millions turn out to vote in Florida's critical Republican primary.

Aides to Mr Romney, who only 48 hours ago pledged not to launch personal attacks on his rival, released a “top ten list” of what it claims are foul-mouthed and angry attacks by Mr McCain on fellow Republicans.

The winner of today's primary — which according to polls is a neck-and-neck race between Mr Romney and Mr McCain — will emerge in a strong position to win the nomination outright, making it a crucial battle between two men who openly dislike each other.

As polls opened at 7am, one million voters had already voted by postal ballot and in districts where early voting was allowed — a record for a Republican primary in Florida.

After trading accusations for days, Mr Romney's campaign released the most personal attack yet, a memo aimed at raising fresh questions about Mr McCain's infamously combustible temper, an issue that has dogged him for years.

It cites such alleged losses of temper as: “Defending his Amnesty Bill, Sen. McCain lost his temper and screamed, 'F*ck you!' at Texas Sen. John Cornyn.”

The memo, which can be found on Mr Romney's official campaign website, adds at another point: “Sen. McCain repeatedly called Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) an “a**hole”, causing a fellow GOP senator to say, “I didn't want this guy anywhere near a trigger.”

Attention is also focused on Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York, who has banked all on victory in Florida but is trailing badly, according to the polls. He hinted yesterday that defeat here could end his campaign, and predicted that whoever wins today's primary will go on the clinch the nomination.

Mr McCain and Mr Romney are vying for votes with two competing messages. Mr McCain, a former naval pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war, is focused on Iraq and the threat of Islamic terrorism, and his argument that only he is qualified to be commander-in-chief.

Mr Romney, a former venture capitalist, has been helped by recent fears of a recession. His message that he has the business experience to turn the economy around — and that Mr McCain does not understand the economy — has been finding fertile ground in Florida, and nationally. A new survey indicates the former Massachusetts governor taking the lead in a national Republican poll for the first time.

Yesterday both men spent the day tearing into each other. They each called the other “liberal” — perhaps the worst accusation that can be made against a Republican — and Mr McCain accused Mr Romney of being a serial “flip-flopper”. Mr McCain, particularly, cannot abide his rival.

Whatever the result, both men will leave Florida to begin a nationwide, state-to-state scramble, with only a week until the 22-state contest on February 5 — Super Tuesday.

Mr McCain will hope that Mr Giuliani drops out of the race, a move that would give him a significant boost in the delegate-rich states of California, New York — Mr Giuliani's home state — and neighbouring New Jersey. The two men draw from the same pool of moderate and independent voters, and those worried about national security. Mr McCain currently holds the advantage in all three states.

Mr Romney, who has far more money than Mr McCain, and can tap into his $250 million personal fortune, is expected to do well in Massachusetts, where he was governor, and will focus on Utah, where Mormonism, his religion, is dominant. He will also pay attention to Colorado, and Georgia, where his conservative stance on the issues will help him. He also has the funds to launch a nationwide advertising campaign on February 5, when dominance of the airwaves could prove crucial.

Mike Huckabee, the Iowa winner, is also trailing in the Florida polls, but has vowed to press on if he fails to win the Sunshine State. The former Arkansas governor and one time Baptist minister will focus on the few Southern states voting on Super Tuesday, in the hope of keeping his candidacy alive.


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