Not as nasty as the ‘sack attack, but still.

Mitt Romney used a press conference here to take a veiled but unmistakable shot at Rudy Giuliani’s messy personal life, saying that the eventual Republican nominee would need to have a united front from their family to defeat Hillary Clinton…

[T]he former Massachusetts governor – surrounded by dozens of blue tee-shirt clad supporters on a hotel porch cheering nearly his every answer — made clear this morning that he thinks there are other crucial elements to beat the candidate most Republicans consider to be the Democrats’ eventual nominee.

Romney said one of those necessary ingredients “when it comes time to run against Hillary Clinton” is that the Republican candidate be able “to bring all their family together as I have to get on the campaign trail.”

“That’s been a big part of what’s ignited our support,” Romney added.

He’s not making the obvious, if unsound, point that voters should take it as a warning if a candidate’s own flesh and blood won’t support him. That’s poor logic, foremost because bad fathers don’t necessarily make bad presidents, but there’s at least an intuitive appeal to it. What he’s actually saying is that it’s important to have the family out campaigning together. But … why? To maximize gladhanding opportunities? If that mattered, he’d be doing better than fourth nationally. He’s playing on the idea here that family is a qualification in and of itself, which I understand works for him vis-a-vis Giuliani and the social cons he’s trying to woo but annoys me as a member of the large and growing single-and-childless demographic. You would think a guy who takes so much irrational flak for his religion would be more careful about making too much of others’ personal lives. Try harder next time, Mitt.

Update: Rudy’s sensitivity to the family-man critique may explain the phone call heard ’round the world.

Update: Brutal. The fact that he’s capable of delivering moldy cheese like “I’ll make sure that our future is defined not by the letters ACLU, but by the letters USA” without grimacing almost warrants congratulations. Zanotti was there and confirms that he bombed:

Mitt Romney, aside from being something like 15 minutes late, decided that the Obama look (no tie, monochrome suit jacket/suit combination) was appropriate for the Grand Hotel, despite obviously not understanding the Obama look requires that the top shirt button be open. So he started out his speech with his collar sides jammed together at his throat and I can’t concentrate on anything else. He stole that line about not having a party whose description serves as a Jay Leno punch line (which I think is actually Newt’s), stole Giuliani jokes and failed to deliver them with the solid timing Rudy typically does, misunderstands the concept of the Hobbesian choice, and stole Ron Paul’s globalization theory (of course, he is in Michigan). He’s like a greatest hits album of everyone else, which, I suppose, is what is necessary to gain the support of every faction present here, from the paleo-conservative libertarian blend that was involved in breakfast, the hardcore Republicans who are probably looking forward more to tonight (McCain and Fred), and that segment of the population that still thinks Giuliani is kind of scary.