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CBS "Early Show" - Transcript


Location: Unknown

MS. RODRIGUEZ: I spent the weekend criss-crossing the state with the three Republican candidates vying for votes here tomorrow. The two front-runners, John McCain and Mitt Romney, of course, locked in their verbal slapfest, and I think I stepped right in the middle of it.

They did it all weekend with crowds.

SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) I understand that Governor Romney has changed his position again, as he has on several other issues.

MR. ROMNEY: (From videotape.) They also want to help get the economy strong, and yet they've never had a single day working in the private economy.

MS. RODRIGUEZ: And when I hit the road --

SEN. MCCAIN: Tell the guy to let us go.

MS. RODRIGUEZ: -- the hits kept on coming.

(To Senator McCain.) Do you think he's not up for this job?

SEN. MCCAIN: I think he does not have the qualifications that I do. He has touted the fact that he is a manager. I'm a leader. The economy of Massachusetts was very poor under -- when he was governor. His government-mandated health care system is now $245 million in the red.

MS. RODRIGUEZ: Romney, also with his wife in his corner, jabbed right back.

MR. ROMNEY: The decision is to be made by the people of Florida, and I don't think they're going to elect or select as our nominee a person who says he doesn't understand how the economy works. The biggest issue the country faces is when you think about pairing off against the Democrats, having someone who has said time and again he doesn't understand the economy is someone who can't lead our party.

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, I've never admitted that I don't know economics.

MS. RODRIGUEZ: The two have been swatting and fighting up and down the state. At stake: 57 delegates and bragging rights in the last primary before Super Tuesday.

SEN. MCCAIN: I have taken on every major national security challenge of the 20th century -- the last 20 years. And Governor Romney wanted to withdraw from Iraq.

MR. ROMNEY: That's dishonest, and he knows it is. I've never called for a specific date of withdrawal. He knows that, but he's trying very desperately to change the topic away from the economy, where he has absolutely no credentials that really show that he understands how the economy works.

MS. RODRIGUEZ: You're demanding an apology from him, which you haven't received. Do you think he was intentionally dishonest?

MR. ROMNEY: Absolutely.


MR. ROMNEY: I think he understood exactly what he was doing, and it was dishonest.

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