McCain and Romney Hammer Away

TAMPA, Florida -- John McCain and Mitt Romney hammered each other on the economy and national security as voting began Tuesday in a pivotal Florida primary that could anoint a Republican presidential front-runner and end Rudy Giuliani's bid for the White House.

Critical phone calls, negative radio ads, and bitter personal exchanges marked the final hours before the primary. The contest offers the winner the state's 57 delegates to this summer's Republican national convention and a big burst of energy in the weeklong sprint to Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, when 22 states hold nominating contests with more than 1,000 delegates at stake.

The state's contest is less important for the Democrats because the party's candidates all agreed to a pledge imposed by national party leaders not to publicly campaign there over a dispute with state party officials.