Top Republicans Face Off as N.H. Primary Nears With just about six weeks left before the presidential primary in New Hampshire, the top candidates for the Republican nomination have started slinging mud at each other. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney traded barbs during the holiday weekend.

Top Republicans Face Off as N.H. Primary Nears

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Andrea Seabrook.

So far, the candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination have comported themselves with relative reserve. Well, this weekend, the gloves came off.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney traded mudslinging attacks while campaigning in New Hampshire.

And New Hampshire is where we catch up with NPR's crack campaign reporters Brian Naylor and Robert Smith. Hi, guys.


ROBERT SMITH: Hey, Andrea.

SEABROOK: Brian, let's start with you. You're with the Romney campaign. How did this thing start?

NAYLOR: Well, the day after Thanksgiving, Governor Romney issued a press release. The headline on it was "Big City, Big Spender" and it has a picture of Rudy Giuliani and it talks about how, when he was mayor as he was leaving office, Mayor Giuliani left behind a $3.1 billion deficit and how he, Mitt Romney, is the candidate of fiscal conservatism and that would never happened under his watch and, in fact, didn't happen when he was governor of Massachusetts.

SEABROOK: Okay, Robert, with the Giuliani campaign, what do you have to say?

SMITH: Well, that hits Giuliani where it hurts, which is the health of New York City. So Giuliani, this morning at a diner in Hudson - I think it was - New Hampshire, he talks about how Mitt Romney's health care plan in Massachusetts was very similar to Hillary Clinton's failed health care plan. And then, he talked to one guy about Mitt Romney's supposed tax cuts in Massachusetts and here is what he had to say.

(Soundbite of past political speech)

Mr. RUDY GIULIANI (Former Republican Mayor, New York; Presidential Candidate): He had one of the weaker records of any governor on economics.

Unidentified Man #1: Exactly.

Mr. GIULIANI: The Cato Institute said he was C for governors. Put him at the bottom tier of governors on economic record. So, you know, I think he's going to have a hard time defending his economic record as governor.

SEABROOK: Point-counterpoint. Brian, what was the other issue that they were talking about this weekend?

NAYLOR: Well, that has to do with a judge that Governor Romney appointed in Massachusetts who, it turns out, released a man convicted of manslaughter after his sentence had ended. And this person went on to be accused of killing a couple in Washington State and that led to some charges from Mayor Giuliani.

(Soundbite of past political speech)

Mr. MITT ROMNEY (Former Democratic Governor, Massachusetts; Presidential Candidate): Mayor Giuliani, I should say, talked to the AP and said this wasn't an isolated situation. Governor Romney did not have a good record, Giuliani said, in dealing with violent crime.


NAYLOR: Well, at an appearance today in front of the toy shop in New Hampshire, Governor Romney said, you know, Rudy Giuliani, of all people, would be the last - should be the last person to cast dispersions. Here's what Romney had to say.

(Soundbite of past political speech)

Mr. ROMNEY: He put somebody in places as commissioner who had a very questionable past and then recommended to the president of the United States this person be made the secretary of Homeland Security despite the fact that he, at this point, was under investigation. This is an individual who has now plead guilty to a crime, is - has been indicted for 16 different actions. And the idea that may hurt Giuliani would be critical of me in a circumstance where I appointed a person with a law and order record, 70 years as a prosecutor, is really a very strange development.

NAYLOR: And he went on to say that Bernard Keric of the - the Commissioner of Police in New York who has been indicted - not only did he appoint him police commissioner, he also recommended to the president that he become Homeland Security Commissioner.

SEABROOK: NPR's Brian Naylor and NPR's Robert Smith, both in New Hampshire. Thanks guys.

SMITH: Thanks.

NAYLOR: Thank you.

SEABROOK: Do you have a question for the candidates? NPR and Iowa Public Radio will host the Democratic presidential debate on December 4th. You can be a part if it by posting questions at We'll use some of your questions on the air.

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