Republican presidential candidates, who had been going relatively easy on front-runner Mitt Romney as they targeted President Barack Obama with their barbs instead, are directing increasing number of arrows at the former Massachusetts governor.
The attacks indicate that the race for the GOP nod has reached the point where candidates “have started to throw elbows in order to jockey for position with primary voters,” reports The Hill
|GOP rivals take off the gloves against front-runner Mitt Romney. (Getty Images Photo)
During the GOP presidential debate last week, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty backed off of his “ObamneyCare” label to go easy on Romney. He was roundly criticized later for softening his position.
On Fox News later, Pawlenty said, “I think the main focus does need to be on President Obama and his failure as a president. But there's going to be some policy differences between the rests of us and bringing those out in a respectful policy based way, I think is appropriate — particularly in the context of a debate."
As the week progressed, candidates started jabbing at Romney, and the punches ramped up during the weekend with word that he refused to the "Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge" of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion rights group.
Opponents criticized Romney and fellow GOP candidate Herman Cain, despite Romney’s explanation that he opposes abortion rights but that Susan B. Anthony’s "well-meaning pledge is overly broad and would have unintended consequences."
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign issued this statement: "It is distressing that Governor Romney refuses to sign the SBA Pledge, even while claiming to be pro-life. The excuses for not signing clearly continue the doubts about his leadership and commitment to ending the practice of abortion – particularly for a candidate who ran as pro-choice for the Senate and governorship of Massachusetts."
This word from former Sen. Rick Santorum:, "This past Monday night at the Republican presidential debate, I was asked about Governor Romney's pro-life conversion, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I apparently spoke too soon. It is incredibly disappointing that Governor Romney chose not to defend those who cannot defend themselves." After Romney explained his position on the pledge, Santorum said he found the explanation lacking.
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