Brian Rogers, a spokesman for McCain, said the senator will continue to call attention to Romney’s record.
“Someone with a record like he has - running essentially to the left of Ted Kennedy in 1994, someone who voted for Paul Tsongas, someone who supported Democrats in New Hampshire - should not be running around calling himself the only real Republican,” Rogers said.
His speech was part of a three-day swing through the Granite State. A new Marist Poll shows McCain in third place in the early primary state. He garnered 17 percent of the vote, compared to Romney’s 26 percent and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 20 percent.
“McCain’s support was the most firmly committed of the GOP rivals while Romney’s was the softest,” writes Susan Page of USA Today. “More than half of McCain’s backers said they strongly supported him, compared with just over a third of Romney’s supporters.”
McCain continued his assault on Romney Sunday morning on CBS’ ” Face the Nation.”
“His record is very clear that he ran in Massachusetts as a very liberal Republican,” he told Bob Schieffer.
But Romney wasn’t McCain’s only target. Appearing on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” radio program Oct. 10, McCain took on Giuliani for opposing a presidential line item veto, picking up an issue that has led Romney to challenge the former mayor.
“I’m very disturbed at Mayor Giuliani’s claim that he’ll bring fiscal discipline and yet is adamantly opposed to one of the major tools that 43 governors use and is willing to go to court, to the United States Supreme Court, to deprive the president of the United States of that valuable tool,” McCain said.
McCain didn’t just use the last week for political jockeying. On Thursday, he unveiled his plan for healthcare reform in a speech in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I offer a genuinely conservative vision for health care reform, which preserves the most essential value of American lives - freedom,” McCain said. “My reforms are built on the pursuit of three goals: paying only for quality medical care, having insurance choices that are diverse and responsive to individual needs, and restoring our sense of personal responsibility.”
“With its emphasis on containing costs rather than covering the uninsured, the health care plan that Senator John McCain released Thursday differs not only from those being offered by the Democratic presidential candidates but also by his rivals within the Republican Party,” writes Marc Santora of the New York Times.
The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal also weighed in on McCain’s plan. “The Senator emphasizes that reform will require “fundamental change — nothing short of a complete reform of the culture of our health system and the way we pay for it,”” the Journal’s board writes. “He seems to mean it, too: He’s also proposing a major change to Medicare, thus becoming the only candidate, Republican or Democrat, to confront America’s runaway entitlement spending.”
On another domestic issue, the environment, McCain picked up the endorsement Sunday of the Republicans for Environmental Protection group. The organization also endorsed the senator during his 2000 presidential campaign.
Looking ahead, McCain is scheduled to make remarks at two Washington, D.C. events Tuesday: the Republican Jewish Forum and the RNC Presidential Trust fundraiser. On Wednesday, the senator is expected to travel to South Carolina for two days of campaign stops in Columbia, Ft. Mill, Spartanburg, and Greenville.
“He’s going to talk a lot about his health care plan that was released last week and just continue to drive that message,” said Rogers, McCain’s spokesman.
Rogers added that on Friday McCain will appear at the Values Voters summit in Washington before heading to Florida for the next Republican debate.