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Republicans: Is Your Candidate Mean Enough?

Repub debate AmesLast week Rudy Guiliani’s health plan adviser, market think-tanker Sally Pipes, was unleashed to attack Mitt Romney for being . . . well, a closet socialist for supporting a form of universal health insurance while governor of Massachusetts. Even worse for Pipes: Romney, was “in cahoots” with that liberal Ted Kennedy.

Ms. Pipes, who advocates a free-market approach that “would deregulate the individual market and allow insurance companies to design policies that are attractive to the non-needy uninsured,” accused Mitt Romney of supporting a plan that attempts to provide universal coverage by requiring either individuals or businesses to purchase health insurance, while assisting those least able to pay, a scheme that Pipes fears might eventually evolve into the dreaded single payer approach. So despite the fact that Romney actually vetoed the separate bill that required businesses to provide health insurance (the Legislature overrode the veto), he apparently committed the sin of at least trying to make sure that all residents of his state were covered one way or another.

On Wednesday, Romney retaliated, nailing Guiliani for having continued New York City’s history of providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants, a policy he inherited after it was adopted under Mayor Koch in 1989. No suprise there for any mayor of New York, a city built on successive waves of immigrants who took seriously the inscription on the Statue of Liberty as they processed through Ellis Island. But that was then. According to Mr. Romney, Mayor Guiliani should now be rejected as the Republican standard bearer because . . .

“He instructed city workers not to provide information to the federal government that would allow them to enforce the law. New York City was the poster child for sanctuary cities in the country.”

Mitt also finds offensive statements like this from Rudy back in 1994:

“Some of the hardest-working and most productive people in this city are undocumented aliens,” Giuliani said at the time. “If you come here and you work hard and you happen to be in an undocumented status, you’re one of the people who we want in this city. You’re somebody that we want to protect, and we want you to get out from under what is often a life of being like a fugitive, which is really unfair.”

Rather than confirm he held these views, Guiliani tried to divert attention to his efforts to make NYC a law-abiding town, as reporters recalled his attacks on McCain for supporting “amnesty” for those illegal aliens Mr. Mayor once found to be the backbone of this city.

Mitt Romney, of course, is the man who claims that “Jesus Christ is my personal saviour.” I’m still trying to figure out what that confession really means for public policy, but so far it includes a willingness to double the size of Guantanamo for those who missed out on salvation because they pray to Mohammed rather than Jesus, and a willingness to have all of us become federal informants any time we think the men mowing Romney’s lawn might not have the right identity cards.

But at least now we know the Republican front runners believe that the way to win the nomination of what’s left of the party of Lincoln is to deny or minimize some part of the humanity and sense of decency they once had.

Photo: Joshua Lott/Reuters, Ames Iowa Republican Debate

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley