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January 6, 2008
Romney gets "The Treatment" from Rivals
Just as Edwards and Obama ganged up on Hillary Clinton in their debate on ABC last night, so too did GOP rivals of candidate Mitt Romney in their portion of the evening's proceedings.
And they did it for the same reason; to deal a fatal blow to their rival's chances for ultimate victory. Politico's Jonathon Martin (who is responsible for spreading a false rumor on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses given him by the Romney campaign that Fred Thompson was going to drop out of the race) also highlights the personal animus most of the GOP candidates hold for Romney:
For months, there has been an open secret among insiders working in or covering the 2008 Republican campaign: The rival candidates despise Mitt Romney. Being on the defensive was exactly what Romney could not afford. Trailing John McCain in the latest New Hampshire polls by as much as 7 points, Romney was hoping to attack McCain on immigration and taxes only to spend most of his time fending off the attacks of most of his rivals.
After Saturday night in New Hampshire, it's no longer a secret. The contempt was obvious, and relentless. And it was harnessed for clear strategic purposes at the debate. Everyone — even candidates who don’t seem to be in the center of the New Hampshire action — felt it was in their interest to pile on the former Massachusetts governor.
Romney may have been knocked from front-runner status in Iowa, but this night he was at the center — of a rhetorical firing squad. Four of Romney’s Republican opponents joined together to put him through a grueling evening, taking turns offering derisive quips and questions about his authenticity and throwing him on the defensive at a critical moment for his campaign.
Fred Thompson, meanwhile, bringing up the rear in New Hampshire polls, acquitted himself well by mostly staying above the fray. Many observers believe he actually won the debate although as far as which candidate benefitted the most it would have to be McCain. Romney did well enough but hardly touched his rival.
All the candidates will have another chance tonight on the Fox News debate.