From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
On a day when most presidential candidates resisted the urge to play campaign politics, Fred Thompson's campaign lashed out against Mitt Romney, in reaction to a Washington Post article that found links between an anti-Thompson Web site and a Romney political consultant. According to the story, the site PhoneyFred.org -- which was taken down soon after the Post called the Romney campaign inquiring about its origins -- referred to Thompson as "Fancy Fred, Five O'clock Fred, Flip-Flop Fred, McCain Fred, Moron Fred, Playboy Fred, Pro-Choice Fred, Son-of-a-Fred and Trial Lawyer Fred."
The Post also described a picture of Thompson in a frilly outfit featured on the site's front page as "more befitting a Gilbert and Sullivan production than a presidential candidate."
There was nothing on the Web site to indicate who created it, but the Post found links between the site and "Under the Power Lines," a site belonging to Romney's lead consultant in South Carolina, Warren J. Tompkins. During the 2000 presidential elections, Tompkins served as Bush's chief strategist in South Carolina, and he's widely rumored to have been the mastermind behind a series of attacks on John McCain following the Arizona senator's victory in the New Hampshire primary.
On Tuesday, Romney's camp distanced itself from the site. Per Reuters, Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said that after finding out about the Web site, it determined "it was created by an individual who parked the site temporarily on the company server space of a firm whose financial partner is a consultant to the campaign, Mr. Tompkins."
But Thompson's spokesman Todd Harris issued a rebuttal, criticizing "an increasingly desperate Mitt Romney" for working hard to divide the country and "practicing the lowest kind of politics."
"Today's half-baked cover-up attempt by the Romney campaign does not even pass the laugh test," Harris' statement continued. "There is no room in our party of this kind of smut. As the top executive of his own campaign, Gov. Romney should take full responsibility for this type of high-tech gutter politics and issue an immediate apology. In addition, Gov. Romney should exercise some of his much-touted executive acumen, take control of his flailing campaign, and immediately terminate anyone and everyone related to this outrage.
"This latest episode only serves to prove what many voters are already figuring out: Mitt Romney will do anything, say anything, smear any opponent and flip flop on any position in order to win."