WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Sen. John McCain is not a true Republican and he does not understand the economy while Mitt Romney is a "flip-flopper" who can not keep his facts straight.
Welcome to the world of dueling campaign rhetoric in the midst of the tightly contested winner-take-all Florida Republican primary.
It's getting testy on the campaign trail as Romney McCain increasingly attack each other a day before Florida voters go to the polls.
At stake are 57 Republican delegates as well as a first place finish that could give the winner a boost the week before Super
Duper Tuesday on Feb. 5, when more than 20 states hold primary elections or caucuses for one or both major political parties.
Romney used a sunrise press conference at a Texaco station in West Palm Beach as the backdrop for his continue criticism of McCain. His go-to example was the McCain-Lieberman climate change bill, which Romney says will increase gas and electricity prices to the tune
of $1,000 per year for a Floridian family of four.
"What's particularly troubling about the bill is that the affect on the global environment would be negligible," Romney said. "The bill does not require other nations to participate."
Romney said that missing requirement would merely force high emitting industries to leavethe United States to go to countries with lower requirements taking their jobs with them.
"As someone who has spent his life in business, I know how business people think, and they will follow the course of least resistance," Romney said. "If we put a huge burden on our industries and homeowners, the industries will move to places where those burdens don't exist."
Romney would keep pounding home his point at airport hangers stops across the state that McCain-Lieberman and two other McCain'-sponsored bills illustrate how he is the wrong choice for Florida and the nation.
"If somebody wants to know where he would lead the country they simply need to look at the three pieces of legislation with his name at the top," Romney said.
He told crowds that the McCain-Feingold law on campaign finance "has not reduced the influence of money and politics, it's made it worse." And he lambasted the McCain-Kennedy proposal on immigration as an "amnesty bill."
Romney said, "All three are bills evidence a lack of understanding of our economy, the very lack of understanding that Sen. McCain has admitted on numerous occasions."
McCain's campaign, also on the final day stump, shot back quickly with a statement.
"Mitt Romney has proven in this campaign that he will say anything to anyone at anytime if he thinks it will help him politically. His stunning capacity to reverse his position on virtually every issue casts serious doubt on his ability to lead. Floridians need to ask themselves: If he changes his position today, what prevents him from reversing himself again tomorrow?" according to a statement from McCain's Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker. "Today, desperate to attack John McCain in the heat of a political campaign,
Mitt Romney has changed his position once again."
McCain's campaign latched onto the "flip-flopper" tag often given to Romney, saying that two years ago he "fully supported a 'cap and trade' system to deal with global climate change. McCain's campaign quoted him as saying, "I'm convinced it is good business," and said Romney cited its "positive effect on development of technologies and economic growth."
McCain also released a web ad on You Tube called a "Tale Of Two Mitts" showing video clips from his 1994 Senate race against Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and other video that appear to contradict statements made in 2007 while campaigning for the White House.
Later in a send-off rally at the West Palm Beach airport, Romney was back painting McCain as a liberal, pointing to the fact he one time considered being Sen. John Kerry's running mate on the Democratic ticket in 2004.
"Had someone asked me that question, there would not have been a nanosecond of thought about it; it would have been an immediate laugh," Romney said. "And, of course, if someone asked him if he would consider me as a running mate, he would have also laughed immediately."
During an airport stop at Fort Myers, Romney told a crowd of supporters that McCain has pressed for legislation that "would have pulled the nation to the left. I just don't think those liberal answers are what America is looking for," Romney said.
The clash between McCain and Romney signify that Florida once thought to be former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's state to lose has basically become atwo-man race, each holding leads in recent polls.
Romney, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opened his press conference at the gas station today "on a personal note" talking about the death of LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley.
"Like millions of other members of my faith I didn't get to know president Hinckley on a very personal one to one basis, instead I knew him as a member of my church and saw him as a leader of great capacity, of great ability to reach out and touch a large number of people with a very personal and human connection," Romney said. "His humility and gentleness I think will always be a part of the memory that we have of President Gordon B. Hinckley."
Romney said he met Hinckley a few times during 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City to ask for help from the church for money or access to property. He said he was impressed by Hinckley's knowledge of details on what the church owned.