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Oh-eight (R): Romney vs. Rudy

The Washington Post's Balz sets the scene of what we also followed over the weekend. "With Rudolph W. Giuliani looking to spring a surprise against Mitt Romney in the state hosting the nation's first primary, the race for the Republican presidential nomination took a sharply negative turn here Sunday as the two candidates traded accusations about taxes, crime, immigration, abortion and ethical standards. The rhetorical volleys underscored the growing stakes here in New Hampshire, where Romney leads in the polls but Giuliani now believes he has a chance to derail the former Massachusetts governor's campaign before it can build the kind of momentum that could make him unstoppable."

The New York Times also covers the heated post-Turkey day weekend of back-and-forths between Rudy and Romney -- this article with the point of view of Giuliani taking and delivering the heat. "The attacks on Sunday — some of the toughest of the campaign — were the culmination of a back-and-forth that consumed much of the long holiday weekend. First Mr. Thompson questioned Mr. Giuliani's history of support for gun control, which is unpopular with many Republican voters, and Mr. Giuliani shot back that Mr. Thompson was attacking him because he had no record of his own to talk about. Then Mr. Romney questioned Mr. Giuliani's fiscal stewardship of New York, leading Mr. Giuliani to attack Mr. Romney for appointing a judge who this summer freed an inmate who was arrested last week, accused of killing a couple in Washington State. That opened the door for Mr. Romney to bring up Mr. Kerik on Sunday."

"Using some of the toughest language of his campaign, Giuliani, in an interview with Politico, slammed Romney on health care, crime and taxes. At the same time he portrayed the one-time moderate as a hypocrite on a host of social issues who lives 'in a glass house.' It was easily the most sweeping attack Giuliani has delivered against Romney in this campaign."

The New York Post headlines the back and forth as "Rudy & Mitt in New Slamshire."

: The candidate is the cover boy for Newsweek, as the newsmag writes about Rudy's early years under the header, "Growing Up Giuliani." Here's the nut intro graph: "The real Rudy is probably as complex and certainly as passionate as the operatic Rudy who shows up at cop rallies. He can be hero or hypocrite or both at once; he has a ripe sense of his own, and his nation's, magnificence and destiny roughly on par with that of Winston Churchill's, whose works Giuliani recommended to his schoolmates, along with his favorite operas by Verdi. Just as Churchill's character was shaped by the myths of his forebears in his ancestral home, Blenheim Palace, seat of the Duke of Marlborough, Giuliani's was forged by the moral ambiguities of his upbringing and the eternal American melodrama of rising above one's past while honoring, or at least accepting, it."

NBC/NJ's Matthew Berger was on the Giuliani bus trip over the weekend and reports: At several stops, Giuliani made a point of speaking of "Islamic terrorists," and chastising Democratic candidates for not using the same terminology. "I said it," he said, after using the term at a town hall in Hampton, NH. "It's ok to say it. Democrats are afraid to say it."

Earlier, he asked who would be offended by the term, other than the terrorists themselves. Not followers of Islam, he said, only the terrorists. The attack on Democrats seemed unprompted and a bit out of left field, but seemed to have become a focus of his remarks throughout the weekend. And it showed Giuliani still felt free to talk openly about fighting terrorism, despite points some have raised that he is resting too much on his 9/11 legacy. Perhaps it was also a return to the basics amid a slip in the polls in New Hampshire.

Check out this Bloomberg News story, which we're sure is going to get repeated by Giuliani's chief rivals plenty of times this week. "On the campaign trail, Rudy Giuliani rails against congressional spending set aside for lawmakers' pet projects. In Washington, his law firm fights to obtain them. Giuliani, the Republican presidential front-runner, last month pledged to 'get rid of' so-called earmarks, which cost taxpayers about $13 billion this year, saying his party should promote 'fiscal discipline.' Just weeks later, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP won $3 million worth of projects for its clients in defense-spending legislation."

HUCKABEE: The AmSpec's Jennifer Rubin likes Huckabee's new TV ad. "It's a classic 'I'm one of you' ad. It is also obviously a comparative ad making the argument that he doesn't 'have to wake up everyday wondering what do I need to believe' without using the name of the guy ahead of him in Iowa. Will Romney be as skillful in pushing back or will he have to run a tradition negative ad at some point regardless of the risks of a blowback in 'nice' Iowa?"

Is it just us, or is Huckabee adopting Dem rhetoric from '04 and '06 about the Saudis? On CNN on Sunday, Huckabee said the following: "Every time we put our credit card in the gas pump, we're paying so that the Saudis get rich — filthy, obscenely rich, and that money then ends up going to funding madrassas," schools "that train the terrorists," said Huckabee. "America has allowed itself to become enslaved to Saudi oil. It's absurd. It's embarrassing."

MCCAIN: The candidate is up with a new TV ad that will air in New Hampshire. In many ways, it's a fascinating ad; it could be an Edwards or Obama spot: change Washington.

Reason Mag editor Matt Welch obtained an essay McCain wrote while at the National War College and concludes in a Los Angeles Times op-ed: "McCain didn't necessarily attend the National War College to assess the wisdom of Vietnam. But he did reinforce a belief system that he's carried to the present day: If you must fight, fight to win, and keep explaining to the American people all along why the sacrifice is necessary. Come January, we'll begin to find out whether McCain's message is resonating."

PAUL: The financial juggernaut that is the Ron Paul campaign continues. He estimates to Bloomberg News that he'll raise more than $12 million this quarter.

Folks, keep this in mind: Paul has enough money to stay in this race long enough to make sure he's one of the final three or four candidates still participating in debates.

ROMNEY: Although Romney has eased incrementally into attack-mode on Giuliani throughout the primary season, NBC/NJ's Erin McPike reports, he wasted no time on Sunday and began reciting his response to the former New York City mayor's criticisms from the previous day before reporters even started asking him about it. "[I] believe that it's important for the Republican Party to have a person who can distinguish himself on family values with Hillary Clinton and point out the differences between us," he said, naming abortion, marriage, immigration and ethics as the big four."

More: "And I'm afraid on all four of those measures, Mayor Giuliani would be the wrong course for our party." He went on, "If you want to have a contrast with the Republican nominee, you're going to have to have someone like myself."

THOMPSON: The candidate unveiled his tax plan yesterday, the New York Times reports. "Thompson … would allow individuals and families to stay with the existing tax structure or to choose to have their earnings taxed under a system with only two rates — 10 percent on income of up to $100,000 for joint filers and $50,000 for singles, and 25 percent on income above these amounts… An analysis by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, which looked into the kind of plan Mr. Thompson proposed, found that the federal government would stand to lose at least $2.5 trillion in revenue over 10 years. But Mr. Thompson … said in an interview yesterday on 'Fox News Sunday' that such studies 'always overestimate the losses to the government' and that tax cuts would spur the economy, leading eventually to greater revenues."

The release of Thompson's tax plan is a good reminder that, though, he's been in the race the shortest period of time, it does seem as if Thompson has released more detailed policy proposals than the other major GOP candidates. This may be perception and not reality but it's a good perception for Thompson.

The Club for Growth gave the plan it's seal of approval.

By the way, Thompson unveiled his tax plan on Fox News Sunday, though it wasn't the most interesting moment of the program. Check out Thompson's criticism of Fox's coverage of his campaign. Apparently, he and the entire Democratic Party have something in common: a beef with Fox's coverage.

"While Thompson is winning over some conservatives with his embrace of federalism, he has alienated others with the way he chooses to apply the principle."