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Flip Flop Romney: To Trust Or Not To Trust Him, That Is The Question

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This is Part 1 of my Election '08 analysis of presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Part 2 is forthcoming.

With last night's Iowa caucuses now in the books, former governor and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is feeling good (but not great) about his second-place finish to Mike Huckabee in this crucial inaugural state caucus for the Republican nomination for president.

His other opponents did much worse than he did, but Romney had a distant second place finish to Huckabee, even after so much time and money spent in Iowa over the last year. Questions still remain about Romney's major beliefs and principles, however, and I'm not talking about his Mormon religion. On everything from guns and the NRA, abortion rights and emergency contraceptives to gay rights and pardons, this man has flip-flopped so much in recent years that he makes John Kerry look like the model of consistency.

I defy anyone to name another presidential candidate in recent times from any political party who has reversed or backtracked on issue after issue as much as he has and won the White House. And in an election season where voters are looking for a leader they can trust, Mitt Romney's trustworthiness is an issue in and of itself and the fact that Iowa voters preferred the significantly less well known and less wealthy Huckabee should tell you something about how voters feel about him and the Republican field in general. They may be catching on to Romney's record, but so too should the rest of the country.

It is true that anyone with a long career in politics is bound to change his or her mind on some issues over time. However, a majority of the 60-year-old Romney's adult life has been centered on professions or (Mormon) missions outside of politics, much as they may have initially informed his political views. And during his considerably shorter time in the political realm, his views on social and other current issues have evolved at such an alarming rate that you can't blame voters for being skeptical of them and seeking out other candidates.

By now, most political junkies or serious followers of the campaign have either seen on YouTube or heard about the clips showing Romney's formerly pro-abortion, Roe v. Wade and gay rights stances during his failed run for Senator Ted Kennedy's seat in 1994 and successful run for governor in 2002. In the latter year, he revealed that his mother Lenore was pro-choice during her attempt at a Senate seat back in 1970, and that he has long been dedicated to the pro-choice cause himself. He even associated himself with Planned Parenthood in 1994.

As governor though, he began his transformation on pro-choice rights by flip-flopping on legislation that made the "morning after" pill available to Massachusetts citizens. First, in mid-2005 he opposed its use for rape victims after pledging to increase its access, according to the Washington Post. Late in 2005, he signed a bill increasing its access to MA citizens and made all state hospitals comply with the law, and also made the pill available to rape victims, all to the dismay of pro-lifers in the state. Nowadays though, he considers himself a mostly pro-life conservative and supports repealing Roe.

Regarding gay rights, he has flip-flopped on civil unions in recent years and after having participated in the Boston Gay Pride Parade in 2002 and having run "to the left of Ted Kennedy" on gay rights in 1994, he now emphatically calls homosexuality destructive to the idea of the American family and strongly opposes gay marriage. Romney may have gone too far in denouncing the gay life style, but he at least wanted MA voters to get a chance to vote on the legality of gay marriage in the state instead of leaving its lawfulness up to a judge. Even with a new governor in town (Democrat Deval Patrick), we're still waiting for that chance.

Mitt Romney also changed his attitude toward gun rights over time. In the 1990s, he supported the Brady Handgun Violence Protect Act of 1993, but now opposes gun control, with the exception of a ban on assault weapons. And as Tim Russert pointed out on December 16, 2007 in his one-on-one interview on "Meet The Press, Romney used to say he doesn't "line up" with the NRA, but he's now a lifetime member! And, he recently claimed he was a lifelong hunter of varmints and rodents. This flip-flop on gun rights would be really funny if it wasn't so politically opportunistic like many of his other reversals.

On Romney's Meet The Press appearance, Russert cornered him on a host of issues, starting with his December 6, 2007 'Faith In America' speech in which he stated that "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." However, when Russert asked him if an athiest can be a moral person and "participate in freedom," Romney flipped and said "Oh, of course."

He tried to explain to Russert that as a nation faith mattered but individually it did not and that there would be no litmus test in presidential appointments. On its face, that's commendable but late in that speech, he said: "Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me." That would be Romney saying it does matter if individuals have faith in their life, because if they don't, they are not his "friend" or "ally." What this episode represents is Romney once again talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Looking back, as a Massachusetts citizen, I thought Mitt Romney did a fairly good job of running the state and cleaning up the fiscal mess that his fellow Republican predecessor Jane Swift left behind. However, he had a poor finish to his governorship, as his spending cuts – which among other things hurt the elderly and badly needed nursing programs – to balance the budget late in his term weren't very popular around here. He also raised the gas tax and raised the most fees of any state in the country. By the end of his one and only term last January, Romney's approval rating was only 43%. And with his change of heart on issues he campaigned on as governor and mocking of MA on the presidential campaign trail, you can't blame many of my fellow state citizens for claiming Mitt Romney turned his back on his constituents.

To be continued…

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About Charlie Doherty

Copy editor/content writer for Penn Multimedia; print/web journalist/freelancer, formerly for Boston Examiner, EMSI, Demand Media, Brookline TAB, Suite 101 and Helium.com; co-head sports editor & asst. music editor at Blogcritics Magazine; Media Nation independent newspaper staff writer, printed/published by the Boston Globe at 2004 DNC (Boston, MA); Featured in Guitar World May 2014. See me on twitter.com/chucko33, myspace.com/charlied, & Facebook.
  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Interesting analysis… just when I was feeling sorry for Romney after that dirty trick Huckabee pulled on him with the campaign ad.

    Not sure what your personal view on gay marriage has to do with anything though.

  • charlie

    You may be right about injecting a personal belief into an article that’s supposed to be an analysis of someone else’s beliefs, but you have to understand that the action of one judge declaring gay marriage to be legal in my home state of Massachusetts still stings around here, and voters are still waiting for the state legislature to allow us to have a say on the issue, just like other states have done.

    Perhaps I should’ve left it at that but I wrote what I wrote. Maybe after I finish Part 2 (hopefully by tonight) I’ll get that edited out but we’ll see. Thanks for your comment, Dr.

  • http://conservablogs.com/publiusforum/ Warner Todd Huston

    Romney simply cannot be believed. Seen the video from the 90s where he said he is not a fan of Ronald Reagan? Now watch his NEW videos where he claims he is the NEXT Ronald Reagan. He claimed he’s a “hunter all his life” and then he admits he only hunted twice.Never supported Planned Parenthood… ooops, then we get a photo of him at one of their fund raisers in 1994. Sorry, Romney is obviously pandering to conservatives. And, if he’ll lie about something as simple as hunting, what that is IMPORTANT will he lie about?

  • Donna

    Very informative piece. I did not know specifics re: his supposed Pro-life stance… I agree wholeheartedly with your article and its premise. Romney will say anything to get elected… what amazes me though, is his stand on stem cells, which hasn’t received alot of attention. I have a sister with MS. You would think that he would move heaven and earth to find a cure. If he wouldn’t budge on this issue because of Republican pressure, what do you think he’d do as president?

  • Charlie

    Of course, Romney’s wife Ann has MS as well. It’s just unbelievable that she (according to the Boston Globe last year) shares his belief that embryonic stem cell research is wrong and akin to “experimenting on” children, even though that is NOT the case and that this research could some day lead to a cure for her and others with Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s disease!

  • Savea7

    All these presidential candidates have flip-flopped during their public service. At least Mitt Romney explained his change of heart. Mitt’s ads were about contrasts. Instead of responding to those ads, McCain and Huckabee resort to attacking Mitt’s integrity.

    Politicians have been known to use misquotes, lapse in memory, and half-truths of all kinds:

    1. MacCain pledged not to go negative but he just did that in his latest ads. How can I trust someone who attacks another candidate’s integrity as a phony and dishonest?

    2. Huckabee performed some blunders from his ignorance of the Pakistani political events to crossing the picket lines . He also announced he wouldn’t get into negativy but he did. How can I trust a guy who never finished seminary then attack Mitt’s religion and called him dishonest several times?

    Why don’t we bring up the history of all the candidates instead of focusing on one individual? Have you ever gone into Obama’s religion website that has a non-negotiable commitment to Africa and that you have to be BLACK to join their church?

    Either reveal all the candidates’ history or write only about the goods in each of them. For me, Mitt Romney family and moral values is what many families are lacking. The future of the childen and leaders of this country starts in the home.

  • Jacob

    “Why don’t we bring up the history of all the candidates instead of focusing on one individual?”

    Yeah, where are the misquotes, lapses in memory, and half-truths of Ron Paul?

  • Charlie

    Savea7 and Jacob: Did you read Parts 1 and 2 and still think there’s nothing unusual about Romney’s many changes of heart? You sound like Romney apologists!

    I said in this article that it is normal for politicians to change positions on some issues over the course of his or her career. But Mitt Romney has had so many flip flops and been so hypocritical in such a short period of time (the last few years) that his integrity as a politician damn well should come into question in this election.

    You should know how bad a beating democrat John Kerry took four years for supposedly flip-flopping on ONE ISSUE, an Iraq funding bill. When he was slammed for being FOR the $87 billion Iraq supplemental before he was AGAINST it, were you crying that he shouldn’t be singled out then? Were you saying every democrat in the race’s half-truths, lies and the like needed to be written about along with Kerry’s flaws? Come on.

    Look, the MSM has done a pathetic, lazy job the last however many years exposing politicians’ flaws and digging into their records. I mean, no one bothered to finish investigating President Bush’s Vietnam record in 2004 after Dan Rather screwed up, nor did they bother covering it in 2000.

    But people like me single out Romney for a reason: he’s a political fraud and opportunist.

    If you want to break down Ron Paul’s record, be my guest, but I’ll guarantee you that his flaws aren’t nearly as bad or drastic as Romney’s. Mitt Romney is in a class all by himself.

  • Charlie

    Savea7: I should also point out that HYPOCRITE MITT has even MORE reversals than I could fit into my two articles; he recently accused John McCain of failing “Reagan 101″ by voting against Bush’s 2001 and 2003 huge tax cuts, when Mitt himself was not a fan of Reagan or Bush’s tax cuts. Use the GOOGLE for further details of his hypocrisy, you’ll find plenty of it.

  • Jacob

    “Why don’t we bring up the history of all the candidates instead of focusing on one individual?”

    — Charlie

    The point here is the only individual with a history of consistency is Ron Paul.

    So, where are the misquotes, lapses in memory, and half-truths of Ron Paul?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    He’s human, he has his share. Perhaps you have some too, since you posted the same lame, irrelevant comment twice. What will you do come Feb 6, Jacob?

  • Charlie

    Jacob: You do know the quote you just referenced didn’t come from me, it came from Savea7, right?

    Second, why are you asking me about Ron Paul? I like the guy (not that much to write about him), so isn’t your beef with Savea7?

    And by the way, Ron Paul isn’t always consistent, as his recent Meet The Press appearance shows.

  • Charlie

    Update: Mitt Romney won most of Wyoming’s delegates yesterday. Woop-de-doo. Do you think that the fact that one of his sons owns land there had something to do with his small victory there? [That’s a rhetorical question]

    Hope New Hampshire voters don’t get as suckered into voting for him like Wyoming’s did. NH voters are quite different and more independent, thank goodness.

  • http://www.morethings.com Al Barger

    Charlie, you obviously despise Romney. That’s okay. He’s a politician, so he’s got it coming.

    But why would his son owning some land in Wyoming have anything at all to do with him winning the Wyoming vote?

    And this business about Wyoming being suckers and New Hampshire being independent and thus likely to reject Romney is nonsense. That’s just blind dumb name calling. Anyone who votes for the guy you don’t like is a “sucker” whereas any truly independent voter would of course think just like you do.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Romney won in Wyoming because he was the only candidate who bothered to campaign there. I think Wyoming got the message.

  • Charlie

    AL: Do you really think Wyoming voters did the kind of background check (pardon the pun) on Romney that I and others have been doing before they voted for him? I can’t prove either way that they did or didn’t, but my guess that those voters saw his Olympic management and business success, bought his new-found conservative credentials when he campaigned there without doing much research into his many reversals, and found out one of his sons owns a ranch or something there, and thus voted for him thinking he is one of their kind.

    Dr. Dreadful: Well, Duncan Hunter was the last to campaign there in December and he got some (admittedly meaningless) votes too, but yeah, Romney showed up in Wyoming a couple of times and easily convinced a bunch of voters to vote for him in the manner in which I stated above to Al.

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