Giuliani uses Mass. surrogates to attack Romney
Hits ex-governor's economic record
Rudy Giuliani's campaign yesterday opened a new front behind enemy lines - local surrogates for the former New York mayor took the increasingly bitter fight with Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney to the steps of the Massachusetts State House.
Led by former governor Paul Cellucci and former state treasurer Joseph Malone, they said Romney's fiscal record as governor pales in comparison with Giuliani's performance in New York City and has contributed to the state's sluggish economy.
Unlike Giuliani, Cellucci said, Romney failed to enact any broad-based tax cuts and instead raised fees and corporate taxes with "loophole" closings. Cuts in local aid shifted the burden onto city and town tax bases, he said.
Romney's campaign later produced past quotes from Cellucci in which he spoke favorably about Romney's record on taxes and spending. It also dispatched Romney's former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey to defend his record: "The claims made today are all the more surprising, given that a little more than a year ago Paul and Joe were supporting me for governor and praising the fiscal record of the Romney administration," she told reporters immediately after Cellucci's news conference ended.
The attack by Giuliani's camp was apparently precipitated by Romney remarks last weekend in New Hampshire in which he said Giuliani left his successor, Michael Bloomberg, with a $3 billion projected budget deficit and Bloomberg pushed through a tax increase to plug the gap.
Ironically, both Giuliani and Romney consider their fiscal records to be a strength of their candidacies. Both inherited huge deficits, which they closed with deep spending cuts and without raising broad-based taxes, and they did it in conjunction with overwhelmingly Democratic legislative bodies.
The band of Giuliani backers, who also included Republican state senators Richard Tisei of Wakefield and Michael Knapik of Westfield, broke little new ground in reiterating previous criticisms of Romney.
But the event, to unveil a new feature, "The Romney Reality" check, signaled a more aggressive posture by Giuliani, whose campaign, while still leading in national polls, has been losing ground in recent surveys in some of the states that will vote early in the presidential nominating process.
Cellucci, who stepped down as governor in April 2001 to become US ambassador to Canada, said that when Romney attacks Giuliani and other GOP presidential opponents, "the record of the person being attacked is far superior" to Romney's.
In her rebuttal, Healey said: "I find it sad that you have these representatives for Rudy Giuliani out here running down our state, talking down our state nationally and also running down our party."
She said she also took "personal offense" at the contention by Giuliani, who presided over a precipitous drop in New York crime, that murder and other violent crime increased in Massachusetts under Romney. FBI statistics show that violent crime dropped by more than 7 percent during his administration and property crimes declined by more than 8 percent. The number of murders in Massachusetts increased from 173 in 2002, the year before Romney took office, to 186 in 2006, the last year of his term.
Romney's campaign also took issue with Giuliani's contention this week that Romney did not cut any taxes while governor. The campaign issued a list of 19 targeted tax cuts totaling about $300 million a year that Romney signed. He initiated 10 of the cuts and the Legislature nine, according to the campaign's tally sheet.