Romney and Giuliani Clash on Taxes
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney attacked rival Rudy Giuliani for opposing a presidential line-item veto and for fighting to maintain a commuter tax in New York City.
The criticism, leveled during Romney's latest campaign swing through New Hampshire, earned a quick rebuke from former Massachusetts governor Paul Cellucci, who is supporting the former New York mayor's campaign.
Cellucci accused Romney of "desperation" because his lead in New Hampshire polls appears to be falling. Cellucci said Romney as governor "had no broad-based tax cuts. He had a sales tax holiday, which is about the best you can say."
The Romney-Giuliani clash over fiscal issues reflects a new dynamic in the GOP nomination fight as the campaign focuses on early states like New Hampshire, where concern about spending and taxes is paramount.
Campaigning in Manchester this morning, Romney told reporters that Giuliani opposed eliminating his city's tax on commuters when the then-Republican governor attempted to kill it.
"Can you imagine what would have happened up here in New Hampshire if I, as governor of Massachusetts, said everybody who commutes to Massachusetts has got to pay an extra special tax as a commuter?" Romney asked. "It just seems absolutely wrong."
Cellucci, speaking on behalf of Giuliani during a conference call arranged by the campaign, called the commuter tax "an existing tax" and accused Romney of failing to reduce the income tax as he had pledged to do.
"Mitt Romney said he was going to cut the income tax from 5.3 percent to 5 percent," Cellucci said. "When he left, the income tax was still 5.3 percent."
Romney also criticized Giuliani for his support in 1997 of a lawsuit challenging the line-item veto for then-President Clinton was a "serious mistake" on the former mayor's part. The U.S. Supreme Court found the line-item veto unconstitutional.
"Because he won, he killed the line-item veto," Romney said.
Cellucci said the mayor supports the presidential line-item veto but believes it must be created with a constitutional amendment.
--Michael D. Shear
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