It seems that it took Romney all of three days to reverse himself from a standard he established in Sunday’s debate that the best way to learn about somebody’s positions “is not to ask their opponent, it’s to ask them.” Today, Romney issued a sharp attack on Rudy Giuliani in Iowa on the immigration issue, and the Giuliani campaign responded in kind:
“If you look at lists compiled on Web sites of sanctuary cities, New York is at the top of the list when Mayor Giuliani was mayor,” Romney said at the Abbey Hotel here. “He instructed city workers not to provide information to the federal government that would allow them to enforce the law. New York City was the poster child for sanctuary cities in the country.”
The Giuliani campaign issued a statement rejecting the charge. Campaign communications director Katie Levinson said: “I am not even sure we should weigh in on this given Mitt Romney may change his mind later today about it. Mitt Romney is as wrong about Mayor Giuliani’s position on illegal immigration as he was when he last mischaracterized the Mayor’s record and later had to apologize. New York is the safest large city in America since Mayor Giuliani turned it around — it is not a haven for illegality of any kind. The Mayor’s record speaks for itself.”
Beyond the actual underlying issue, what this says to me is that the GOP candidates are starting to take their gloves off. Perhaps with McCain’s chances dimmed and Thompson still undeclared, Romney now has Rudy in his crosshairs. And as far as I can tell this is the first time the Giuliani campaign has really gotten into the mix with a sharp retort.