Currently leading in most Florida polls by double digits, Mitt Romney appears to be the favored candidate in today’s next primary contest – if you listen to the media and the pollsters. I wouldn’t recommend listening to either for any great length of time. A lot of these polls and other media reports aren’t worth a grain of salt. They might predict the inevitable, but 100% reliability can’t be credited to them. Nevertheless, what are we to do with Mr. Romney if he does in fact receive the nomination following this grueling slugfest of a primary season?
Most of us – who are of like mind – will back Romney if he is nominated, as we would any Republican candidate who is not Barack Obama. That said, none of us are looking forward to defending this man or his record. Granted, he’s not Obama. That’s great for starters. He’s actually worked in the real world. He doesn’t demonize profits. He’s not a Marxist. These things are all great, but he doesn’t exactly have the gleaming record you’d love to stand up for and defend against your Obama-supporting friends.
However, for all his campaign rhetoric, Romney is a moderate at best and some have even gone so far as to call him a liberal – like Newt did in Palm Beach. The perfunctory establishment candidate has political skeletons galore in his closet. If you’re unsure of where he actually stands on the issues, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Just ask the people of Massachusetts. In the 2002 gubernatorial election he ran as a moderate; in his ill-fated quest for the Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat in 1994 he ran to the left of Kennedy.
As a candidate for governor and during his tenure as the state’s chief executive, he pandered to the overwhelmingly liberal voting bloc in the Bay State - the same voters who are no doubt snickering at the former governor as he now runs all over the country claiming the mantle of Conservatism. As most of you now know, Romney didn’t govern as a Reaganite in Boston – his disastrous 2006 healthcare legislation stands out as biggest red flag.
On January 18, Business Insider’s Michael Brendan Dougherty dug up John McCain’s playbook from 2008 and highlighted 14 (but certainly not all) of Romney’s worst flip-flops. No word on how McCain feels about digging up this dirt, given the fact that he endorsed Romney back on January 4. Regardless, Romney’s changing of the tide on multiple issues is not only public knowledge – it’s been used against him by his Republican opponents during the 2012 primaries.
The first “flip” (or “flop” if you will) highlighted in Dougherty’s article was Romney’s wavering view on immigration:
FLIP: “Gov. Mitt Romney expressed support … for an immigration program that places large numbers of illegal residents on the path toward citizenship … Romney said illegal immigrants should have a chance to obtain citizenship.” (Evan Lehmann, “Romney Supports Immigration Program, But Not Granting ‘Amnesty’,” The Lowell Sun, 3/30/06)
FLOP: “[I] think I’m best off to describe my own positions. And my positions, I think I’ve just described for you – secure the border, employment verification and no special pathway to citizenship. I feel that’s the course we ought to take.” (CNN’s “The Situation Room,” 5/22/07)
Here was “Mr. Conservative’s” view on Reagan during his Senate run against Ted Kennedy and his changing of positions in 2005:
FLIP: “I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. I’m not trying to return to Reagan- Bush,” Mitt Romney said during a debate with Ted Kennedy
FLOP: “‘Ronald Reagan is one of my heroes,’ Romney said as he praised Reagan’s strategy for winning the Cold War: ‘We win; they lose.’” (Michael Levenson, “Romney Links Gay Marriage, US Prestige,” The Boston Globe, 2/26/05)
In the piece, Dougherty refers to Romney’s stance on abortion as the “big one” of the 14 flip-flops. On this topic the former governor has really struggled to make up his mind:
FLIP: “When Kennedy called him ‘multiple choice,’ Romney demanded an extra rebuttal. He revealed that a close relative died of an illegal abortion years ago and said, ‘Since that time, my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter, and you will not see me wavering on that.’” (Joan Vennochi, “Romney’s Revolving World,” The Boston Globe, 3/2/06)
“I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a US Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it.” (Joan Vennochi, “Romney’s Revolving World,” The Boston Globe, 3/2/06)
FLOP: “When I am asked if I am pro-choice or pro-life, I say I refuse to accept either label.” (Glen Warchol, “This Is The Place, But Politics May Lead Romneys Elsewhere,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 2/14/99)
FLIP: “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose, and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard. I will not change any provisions of Massachusetts’ pro-choice laws.” (2002 Romney-O’Brien Gubernatorial Debate, Suffolk University, Boston, MA, 10/29/02).
In 2002, Romney offered his completed NARAL questionnaire, filled out with “mostly abortion-rights positions,” to the media even before returning it to NARAL. “Yesterday, Romney also aimed to head off confusion about his stance on abortion rights by answering a Mass National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League questionnaire with mostly abortion-rights positions. He offered the questionnaire to the press even before he returned it to MassNARAL…”
FLOP: Romney said he had a change of heart on the issue after speaking with a stem-cell researcher, Dr. Douglas Melton. Romney claims Melton said ‘Look, you don’t have to think about this stem cell research as a moral issue, because we kill the embryos after 14 days.’
‘It hit me very hard that we had so cheapened the value of human life in a Roe v. Wade environment that it was important to stand for the dignity of human life,’ Romney says.” (Karen Tumulty, “What Romney Believes,” Time, 5/21/07)
Among the other issues that made the list were the Bush Tax Cuts, gun laws and ownership, global warming, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, gay marriage, stem cell research, the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, RomneyCare, and spending limits for congressional elections.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got as much stomach for defending this guy as I did for John McCain – which is to say: very little. We don’t need another John McCain as our nominee. Romney’s nomination has the strong possibility of being a losing proposition – and another four years of the current administration will have us kicking ourselves even harder than we did after the 2008 debacle. The establishment has chosen Romney and that’s fine. But they don’t get to make our choice for us. We’ll decide who our nominee is going to be even as we’re spoon-fed Romney until August.
My native Florida might be furthering the wishes of the establishment but that doesn’t mean the rest of the country has to. When compared to Obama, Gingrich is a viable candidate and, if you read my piece from several days ago, you’ll know my admiration for Rick Santorum.
Just remember as you’re listening to Romney tell you how conservative he is during the debates and at campaign stops: this is the same candidate who was equally as passionate about being “pro-choice” just a short time ago. Thanks, but I’d prefer an alternative nominee. I don’t feel like defending the “flip-flopper” against Obama and there’s no reason we have to back ourselves into a corner like we did in 2008.
The establishment’s pick doesn’t have to be ours.