McCain & The Varmint Gun

This post originally appeared on David

The Nastiest Comment of the 2008 Presidential Campaign (So Far) Award goes to...John McCain. From the political blog of The New York Daily Sun:

Mitt Romney has been trying to make quite a bit of political hay out of the compromise immigration bill--he sees it as one of John McCain's key weaknesses as relates to the Republican base and a great way to differentiate himself as the One True Conservative in the race (at least until Fred Thompson jumps in). Well, today, on a conference call with bloggers, Mr. McCain fired back at the former Massachusetts governor, who has (of course) held varying positions on immigration over the years.

"Maybe I should wait a couple weeks and see if it changes," Mr. McCain said of Mr. Romney's position on immigration this week. "Maybe he can get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his yard."

Ouch. Will that acerbic sense of humor of the old Navy fighter pilot help or hurt him in the months ahead? Zingers can work wonders in politics. ("I knew Jack Kennedy...." Then again, Lloyd Bentsen didn't become vice president; Dan Quayle did.) But attacks can sometimes be read as signs of desperation. Is it a coincidence that McCain hit Romney this way on a day when a new poll in Iowa shows Romney leading McCain 30 to 18 percent among like Republican caucus goers, with Rudy Giuliani claiming 17 percent? I think not.

Buckle up. There's plenty of time for this race--and the Democratic contest--to get far more bitter.

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