Romney, Giuliani spar over budgets

By Sasha Issenberg, Globe Staff | October 10, 2007

DEARBORN, Mich. - Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani tangled over their records on managing budgets in a debate yesterday among Republican presidential candidates as each tried to undermine the other's claim to the GOP's heritage of fiscal conservatism.

The debate, hosted by CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, and the Michigan Republican Party, was designed to focus on economic issues, and the top contenders appeared to find consensus on major policy matters. They alternated in delivering largely undifferentiated paeans to low taxes, free trade, restrained government spending, and the power of the free market.

The debate was held in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb that has stood at the intersection of the major currents in Bush-era foreign and domestic policy. It was in the streets of the country's largest Arab-American enclave that Iraqi refugees celebrated the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in the spring of 2003, and at the headquarters of Ford Motor Co. that the effects of global trade on American manufacturing have been most acutely felt.

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