NASHUA, N.H. - Spike, the anti-Huckabee dog, is right.
"What makes me barking mad?" the hairy pooch asks in a Mitt Romney mailer sent to voters last week. "Mike Huckabee raised taxes on dog groomers!"
It's true, kind of.
And it's another example of how New Hampshire residents, and Iowans before them, have been bombarded by some Republican candidates slinging charges and counter-charges - allegations almost impossible to sort out.
Take Spike's claim, for instance.
The cute little dog, who appears to need a trip to the groomer, refers to a 2004 Arkansas tax that was part of a broad revenue-raising package. The bill became law, though without the signature of Huckabee, then the state's governor.
Romney has been the driving force behind the barrage of allegations in the GOP race, pounding Huckabee and Arizona Sen. John McCain at debates and at town hall meetings, in mailings and in ads, as too willing to shun tax cuts and embrace increases.
The former Massachusetts governor is running two ads here that recall McCain's votes against Bush administration tax cuts - and how he now seems to be embracing them.
"John McCain is one of those Republicans who has been wrong on tax cuts," says one of the voters in the ads.
He stepped up the criticism Sunday at a Nashua town meeting. "He's simply wrong. He's consistent, but he's wrong," Romney charged.
Romney's right in that McCain has not followed the party line. In May 2001, the senator was one of two Republicans to oppose the president's $1.35 trillion tax cut plan, the centerpiece of President Bush's economic program.
McCain said at the time they were too tilted toward helping the wealthy "at the expense of middle class Americans."
Two years later, with deficits soaring because of the revenue drop and the cost of the war on terror, McCain voted against the next installment of the Bush tax cut plan.
In 2006, though, McCain voted to extend tax cuts due to expire before 2010, explaining that voting to let them expire would be a tax increase, and he does not vote for tax increases.
Romney's other blast at McCain involves immigration. The senator has long been a leader in the bipartisan fight to create a path to citizenship for the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.
"He wrote the amnesty bill that America rejected," says a voter in one of Romney's new ads.
On Sunday, Romney insisted McCain supported "blanket amnesty." And in a series of press statements, Romney maintained that McCain voted to allow undocumented immigrants to "collect benefits on work they did while in this country illegally."
Neither charge is true.
Currently, people in the country illegally working and contributing to Social Security cannot collect benefits. According to factcheck.org, these people can get credit toward future benefits for the amount they have contributed.
In addition, McCain has never supported blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants. His legislation would set up a system of fines, fees and other criteria they would have to meet before becoming citizens.
Anyway, Romney himself once found such an approach palatable, telling the Boston Globe in 2005 that the plan by McCain and others was "quite different" from amnesty.
Huckabee has largely stayed away from responding to Romney's charges, though he fought back Saturday night when Romney blasted his labeling the Iraq war policy as "arrogant."
"We owe him (Bush) a debt of credit for preventing an attack over the past six years," Romney said.
Huckabee said Romney had mischaracterized his views. "I didn't say the president was arrogant," Huckabee said. "I supported the president and the war before you did. I supported the (Iraq) surge and you didn't."
Romney disputed that. "Don't mischaracterize my position," he said.
"Which one?" Huckabee fired back.
McCain has responded to Romney over the airwaves.
In recent days, he's unleashed his own attack ad, questioning Romney's foreign policy experience. The ad shows dramatic scenes of war and an announcer says, "Mitt Romney says the next president doesn't need foreign policy experience. John McCain for president."
And that's it.
Whether all these accusations swing any votes is highly uncertain. Campaign officials dispute the notion that they are attacking the other guy. Romney spokesman Kevin Madden calls Romney's ads and statements efforts to "contrast," not attack.
But that's not what it seems to voters. At every campaign stop, voters say they're tired of all the negatives, and would strongly consider voting against someone who was too critical of an opponent.
"I'm not for people degrading other people," said Erin Brooks, a professional student mentor from Hennicker - one reason she's ruled out Romney or New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Rich Fisher, an electrical engineer, thought the attacks made Romney seem "slick, conniving," while Brendan Bauer, a Manchester contractor, saw only minimal value, since "everyone's so close on where they stand on issues."
ON THE WEB
To see McCain's 2001 tax cut vote:
To see McCain's 2003 tax cut vote: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=108&session=1&vote=00196
To see McCain's 2006 tax cut vote:
To see a Romney ad questioning McCain's record: