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Romney, McCain and Who's the 'Real' Conservative

John McCain and Mitt Romney clashed repeatedly over their respective credentials as conservatives in the opening minutes of tonight's Republican debate in California.

Romney, echoing his stump speech of recent days, insisted that McCain was not an authentic conservative due to his leadership role on issues like immigration reform, campaign finance reform and the environment.

"Those views are outside the mainstream of Republican conservative thought," Romney argued, adding, for further emphasis that no true conservative would have been endorsed -- as McCain was -- by the New York Times.

McCain, who rolled a pen over in his hand and fiddled with his tie during Romney's soliloquy, retorted that he had been endorsed by the two major newspapers in the governor's home state. "I guarantee you the Arizona Republic will be endorsing me, my friend," McCain told Romney.

The Arizona senator went on to detail a record that he argued was both conservative and bipartisan, insisting that he was "proud of reaching across the aisle and getting things done."

Refusing to let McCain have the last word, Romney shot back that "facts are stubborn things" and that McCain was badly distorting his record as governor of Massachusetts.

The back and forth between McCain and Romney dominated the first 20 minutes of the debate, leaving former Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul struggling to get a word in edgewise.

Huckabee argued that the contest was a three-way race and that he of all the candidates on the stage has the strongest conservative credentials.

Asked about comments made by conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh that nominating he or McCain would destroy the Republican Party, Huckabee flashed his trademark wit: "I wished Rush loved me as much as I loved Rush," he said.

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By Chris Cillizza  |  January 30, 2008; 8:37 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Schwarzenegger To Endorse McCain, Says L.A. Times
Next: Domestic Issues Dominate 1st Hour of GOP Debate


Romney is the only one whio has the knowledge the courage and the guts tio fix what needs to be done he is no nonsense and very shrewd just what we need why do you think the oldtimers dont like him he will erode there grip on power

Posted by: snapshot1910 | February 1, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

In the original text of "Romney, McCain and Who's the 'Real' Conservative," did Mr. Chris Cillizza really write, "Asked about comments made by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh that nominating he [sic] or McCain . . ."?

Posted by: johndporter | January 31, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Who cares who has the more conservative credentials? Its about integrity stupid - and McCain is the clear winner in this arena.

Posted by: rgn1 | January 31, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney has the most off-putting, snide manner of any candidate I've ever seen of either party. I'm a Democrat who will vote for our eventual nominee but I'm rather hoping Romney is the GOP candidate because he just won't wear well in the general election--he'll completely turn them off.

Posted by: jsquires | January 31, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

McCain and Romney conservatives? What a joke. I guess if wanting to continue with overspending and increased debt is conservative, then they are conservative.

I used to think of Romney as a nice guy but too liberal. Then I heard his interview on the Mark Larsen radio show. Romney is a total elitist jerk who does not plan to do anything to lower taxes.

He will just do more to destroy the middle class of this country. He does not care.

Posted by: mnau | January 31, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

How stupid do these canidates think the american people are?Anyone who has bothered to look at the records of the individual canidates knows which one is the conservitive
and his name was mentioned once in this article.

Posted by: gary2547poh | January 31, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Romney is continually attacked by McCain because McCain recognize Romney brings Change, New Ideas, and Prospects for Improvement that do not fit into McCain's established world of politics. Romney threatens McCain's political empire. Some of McCain's back room buddies might lose their power if Romney, the new kid on the block, gets in. So McCain, the practiced politician delivers his low blows, reminds us he has lots of political buddies, and says nothing about improving America beyond beating up on the rest of the world.

Posted by: ALMANOJODO | January 31, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Politics 4 Dummies

Q 1: If someone takes $100 from you and offers to give you back $1, do you:
1) vote for this "economic stimulus"
2) know you are being swindled

Q 2: If your government borrows trillions from two of the most oppressive and
heavily armed countries in the world to invade and occupy a country that has
no weapons of mass destruction, only oil, do you:
1) think that this promotes democracy
2) know that democracy is for sale.

Posted by: RageAgainstTheMachine | January 31, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who supports the Born Again, Faith Based, Pro Life Lying War Criminal Mass Murderer Serial Killer in Chief and the VP of Torture should never be in the WH. Anyone who supports wasting a couple of trillion dollars of taxpayers funds in Illegal Invasions of Sovereign States should never be our leader. If one had any courage, one would call for the Axis of Evil to be indicted for War Crimes. People who support Mission Accomplished is equally guilty in the thousands of Murders. These Killers need to face Justice at the International Criminal Court. There is no Statue of Limitations on War Crimes.

Who Would Jesus Kill?

All of these Religious Psychos are Frauds. Only Ignorant Deluded Idiots would believe any of them.
Crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court

Posted by: mawt | January 30, 2008 11:41 PM | Report abuse

As usual GOP candidates argue who is most conservative.

Who won the CNN Republican Debate in California?


Posted by: PollM | January 30, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

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