The Associated PressOctober 9, 2002
Romney goes on offensive in gubernatorial debate
Republican Mitt Romney went on the offensive in the governor's race on Wednesday,aggressively taking on Democrat Shannon O'Brien in a debate and launching a new ad that criticizes herrecord.Romney, the former Winter Olympic chief, accused O'Brien of raising her own salary as state treasurer,allowing the state's debt to rise on her watch, and voting for higher taxes while in the Legislature."That's what she's doing in the past, that's what she'll do in the future if she's elected governor," Romneysaid.O'Brien accused Romney of continuing a pattern of attacking her. She said he had reneged on a pledge torun a positive campaign, and she criticized him for running "negative attack ads" against her."How can the people of Massachusetts trust you?" she asked Romney in a debate on WLVI-TV. "Theycan't trust Mitt Romney."Romney said O'Brien and her running mate, Chris Gabrieli, had gone "up and down the state"misrepresenting his record."Politics is not a place for whining," Romney said.The debate was the first in which all five candidates for governor took part. Libertarian Carla Howell,Green Jill Stein and independent Barbara Johnson had been excluded from two previous debates inSpringfield and Worcester.The testy exchanges between Romney and O'Brien continued a pattern begun earlier in the day whenRomney debuted a television ad that said O'Brien voted for "billions in higher taxes on cars, income andgas.""Shannon O'Brien has been part of the mess on Beacon Hill for 12 years," the ad says. "Mitt Romney hasthe independence to bring change."Adrian Durbin, O'Brien's spokesman, said, "It's a desperate move by a campaign that's struggling to gainany traction."Howell used the debate to promote her ballot question to eliminate the state's income tax, and sherepeatedly mentioned her slogan, "Small government is beautiful."Howell called Romney, who does not support her ballot initiative, a "big government, high-taxRepublican." She referred to a candidate who accepted money under the new Clean Elections law as a"welfare politician.""Big government never creates jobs, it only takes our money," Howell said. She said repeatedly that herballot question would create jobs and give every working person $3,000 that could be spent, saved or givento charities.But several of the other candidates said it would also cost the state $9 billion per year, cutting spending oneducation, construction, and other programs."You can't just eviscerate state government and expect you're not going to hurt some people," O'Brien said.