WINDHAM, N.H. – Republican Mitt Romney sought to deflect Rudy Giuliani's criticism of his economic record Tuesday with a two-fer — a former Massachusetts governor now living in New York.
William F. Weld, who started a 16-year run of GOP rule in liberal Massachusetts that ended in January when Romney's term finished, said his running mate and successor, former Gov. Paul Cellucci, was mistaken last week when he assailed Romney over tax cuts and spending during a rally in front of the Massachusetts Statehouse.
"He's a true-blue fiscal conservative and he's spelled out exactly how he's going to hold down spending in Washington," Weld said as he accompanied Romney on the first of his four public stops, a visit to the Windham Junction country store.
"I believe there were 19 tax cuts when Governor Romney was in office. That's just a fact. And what he's proposed for Washington is the most developed of any of the candidates."
Weld singled out Romney's pledge to veto any spending veto spending in excess of inflation, minus 1 percent.
As for Cellucci's increasingly public criticism of Romney, the Harvard-educated Weld broke into French to say, "Each to his own."
Romney's decision to travel with Romney reflected his campaign's interest in rebutting the criticism of Giuliani surrogates from Massachusetts, including Cellucci and former Treasurer Joe Malone.
Joined by several Republican state legislators, they announced last week they would travel the country, questioning why Romney was unable to lower the state's income tax rate to 5 percent — as pledged — while Giuliani presided over 23 tax cuts as mayor of New York.
Weld's blend of liberal social views and conservative fiscal positions, as well as a plunge into Boston's Charles River to celebrate an environmental compact, endeared him to Massachusetts voters during the six years he was in office.
Many New Hampshire residents, especially those in the vote-rich southern tier of the state, are relocated from Massachusetts. The crowd inside the country store reminisced with Weld about his tenure as governor from 1991 to 1997. Romney relished the help, calling the red-headed Weld "Big Red."
Weld moved to New York after resigning as governor amid a failed bid to become U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Cellucci, at the time lieutenant governor, served as acting governor before being elected in his own right in 1998. Last year, Weld mounted a campaign for New York governor, but retreated amid criticism from conservatives.