updated 10/27/2007 9:29:28 PM ET 2007-10-28T01:29:28

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney offered a verbal tour of "Hillary's House of Horrors" on Saturday, conjuring images of Halloween spook houses to underscore his criticisms of Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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"You go in one room, she wants to raise your taxes. You go in another room and she wants to have government taking over health care," Romney said to laughter and applause at a town hall meeting in southwest Florida just days before the scary Halloween holiday on Wednesday. "You go in the next room and she's weakened homeland security by voting against the authority of our government to listen in to al-Qaida's calls."

Romney said he would keep Clinton from reaching the White House not by acting like her — an apparent dig at rival Rudy Giuliani — but by building on the conservative foundation laid by Ronald Reagan.

Pledge of bi-partisanship
Romney also touted his bipartisan work with a Democratic legislature while he was governor of Massachusetts. Responding to an audience member who expressed frustration with Congress members who strictly vote along party lines, Romney pledged to work with opposition leaders.

"We had to agree to solve things together," Romney said, citing his state's health care reform effort and balanced budget. "I will not make it a personal, rancorous battle."

Reached by telephone later in the day, Clinton campaign spokesman, Mo Elleithee said: "Given Governor Romney's long history of flip floppping on issues, we're not worried. We expect him to endorse us any day."

Struggling in Florida
This is Romney's 18th campaign trip to the Sunshine State, but a recent poll from Quinnipiac University showed him last among the top four Republican candidates, with 12 percent voter support. Giuliani remained ahead of the pack with 30 percent; John McCain and Fred Thompson were tied with 14 percent.

Asked about the poll numbers after the town hall meeting, Romney acknowledged, "I've got a long way to go."

"But if someone were fortunate enough to do real well in Iowa and New Hampshire, you can bet they're going to get a real boost in Florida," Romney said. "I'm pleased that in the early states where I've spent the most time, I'm doing the best. If it were the opposite, I'd be worried."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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