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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Romney on Giuliani, debate and health care



Romney_2 Republican presidential hopeful, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, smiles after autographing a copy of his book during a visit to All Children's Hospital Tuesday morning. [AP photo]

Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney was in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, giving a speech about health care. He took some time with the media afterwards to throw a few jabs at former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

"Mayor Giuliani has a fact problem, which is meaning that he makes them up," Romney said. "He said that violent crime increased while I was governor, actually, it went down. He had the spending levels and growth and spending levels wrong, when he attacked me in one of the debates, he got that wrong as well. He puts forth purported facts that just don't happen to be the case. He says time and again that Mitt Romney didn't lower taxes. I lowered taxes 19 times. I either initiated or lowered taxes 19 times.  It would be nice if Mayor Giuliani got the facts straight before he launched the attacks."

But when asked about recent mudslinging and whether he was concerned about the "tone," of the Republican debate turning negative, Romney said: "Just this last week or so and actually for some time, you've probably watched the debates and seen my opponents take some pretty good slams at me one after the other, and you sit back and take them at some point. But finally you say, wait a second, when  you say things that are frankly inaccurate about my record, I've got to stand up and say that you're wrong."

Romney also defended himself against accusations that Giuliani has recently thrown his way that Romney is running away from his record in Massachusetts, which some have compared to Sen. Hillary Clinton's new health care proposal.  "I'm very proud of my record. . .I basically talk about my record everywhere I go. I'm very proud of our health care system we were able to improve in Massachusetts."

Romney accused Giuliani of "having nothing but praise" for Sen. Hillary Clinton's plan when it first came out.

"Why the change in attitude? When it first came out he was all roses and petals for Hillary's plan, all full of praise. Now I'm running for president and he's decided it's not such a good idea," Romney said. "Facts are stubborn things and the mayor needs to check his facts before he launches attacks."

UPDATE: The Giuliani campaign responds that Romney is taking a Giuliani quote out of context, reciting something from a 1994 newspaper article about privatizing hospitals when Giuliani said something to the effect that Clinton's proposed health care plan was "doing some good things." Buzz is looking for the story.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:29am]


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