The top Republican presidential contenders spent the day before today's Florida primary flying from city to city around the Sunshine State -- and letting fly with accusations as soon as they hit the ground.

Mitt Romney said John McCain is a tax-and-spend buddy of the Democrats.

McCain said Romney is a tax-and-spend liberal.

Both said the other is a flip-flopper: McCain on the president's tax cuts; Romney, who's been dogged by his reversal on abortion, on virtually everything else.

And so it went in stop after stop.

Playing it nice: third-place contenders former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani has acknowledged that he might lose and will make an announcement about his campaign's future on Wednesday.

Romney started at dawn at a West Palm Beach gas station, where he bashed McCain as a gas-tax-raiser because of his global-warming plan. Romney also used the loaded words "Clinton" and "Lieberman" to connect McCain with Democrats, while comparing himself to Ronald Reagan.

Romney lambasted the Arizona senator for a host of "liberal answers" to the country's problems. Among them: McCain's legislation curbing money in politics, his more forgiving view of illegal immigrants and his backing of an energy bill that Romney said would raise consumer costs.

"And I just don't think those liberal answers are what America is looking for, not for the Republican Party or for any party, for that matter," Romney said in Fort Myers.

McCain accused Romney of "wholesale deception of voters" and of flip-flopping on the issues.

"On every one of the issues he has attacked us on, Mitt Romney was for it before he was against it," McCain said.

He added, "The truth is, Mitt Romney was a liberal governor of Massachusetts who raised taxes, imposed with Ted Kennedy a big government mandate health care plan that is now a quarter of a billion dollars in the red, and managed his state's economy incompetently, leaving Massachusetts with less job growth than 46 other states."

McCain told a Jacksonville audience that Romney has been "entirely consistent," then quipped: "He's consistently taken at least two sides of every issue, sometimes more than two."


Huckabee, after a brief Pensacola appearance Monday, went silent in Florida almost all day as he stumped in Nashville before returning to Tampa.


Though he's acknowledged that his campaign is sinking, Giuliani is acting like a fighter without taking any swings. The "Rocky" theme song, "Eye of the Tiger," cranked from speakers. The crowd at the municipal airport in Sanford was small, maybe 100 people. And with Giuliani's poll numbers and momentum sagging, he badly needed a last-minute boost. He didn't seem to be getting it Monday morning. At his next event, in Clearwater, another disappointing crowd barely filled a corner of an airport hangar.