Republican Rep. Trent Franks cautioned after the presidential debate Wednesday that Mitt Romney's intense attacks on his rivals may give life to a third-party candidacy in the general election. To be sure, the conservative Arizona congressman isn’t an objective observer: He’s backing Newt Gingrich.
Nonetheless, "My greatest fear is it seems that Mr. Romney has set his path to the nomination based on carpet-bombing his opponents to oblivion with false negative advertising,” Franks told Politico.
"First, that’s the kind of thing that engenders a third-party candidacy, which would be a disaster for us. Secondly, it’s the kind of thing that robs us of our most important leverage. Republicans’ most important leverage is their ability to appeal to the truth and to principle when facing an opponent like Barack Obama, who essentially doesn’t hold himself to either. If we jettison that in a primary, it won’t be there for us when we desperately need it in the general."
Franks didn’t specify how a third-party candidacy would arise, but he accused Romney of unfair fighting. "I used to do a little boxing, and when somebody kicks you in the groin, that’s against the rules,” he said. “And it has a way of kind of taking away the comity of the sport."
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