Romney in 2002: Hey, liberals, “you really need me in Washington”

posted at 12:45 pm on November 3, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

This might be a more helpful story to Mitt Romney in October 2012 rather than November 2011.  Undoubtedly, that’s why the Washington Post decided to run with it now:

Mitt Romney was firm and direct with the abortion rights advocates sitting in his office nine years ago, assuring the group that if elected Massachusetts governor, he would protect the state’s abortion laws.

Then, as the meeting drew to a close, the businessman offered an intriguing suggestion — that he would rise to national prominence in the Republican Party as a victor in a liberal state and could use his influence to soften the GOP’s hard-line opposition to abortion.

He would be a “good voice in the party” for their cause, and his moderation on the issue would be “widely written about,” he said, according to detailed notes taken by an officer of the group, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.

“You need someone like me in Washington,” several participants recalled Romney saying that day in September 2002, an apparent reference to his future ambitions.

Romney made similar assurances to activists for gay rights and the environment, according to people familiar with the discussions, both as a candidate for governor and then in the early days of his term.

WaPo’s reporters Peter Wallsten and Juliet Eilperin say that this gives us some “revealing insights into the ever-evolving ideology of Romney.”  Boy, does it ever.  As Wallsten and Eilperin also note, though, this isn’t entirely new.  They sniffed some of this out from a Los Angeles Times profile of Romney in 2007, just as he was launching his first presidential bid.

The article goes into great detail on his policy positions, especially on the environment, which we have already covered at Hot Air.  The question is less that Romney has an “ever-evolving ideology,” though, than whether Romney has any ideology at all.  One could look at that positively and say that Romney might be the ultimate Republican pragmatist who can get things done, or negatively with Romney being another politician willing to say anything to get elected.  Since the biggest aim for Republicans in the 2012 general is to send Barack Obama into retirement, being able to get elected might not be an awful epithet to toss.

Here’s the problem with that, however.  In either description, there is no reliable indicator to determine exactly what a President Romney would do once in office.  It’s possible, as Michael Gerson argued this week, that Romney can no longer afford to flip again on any of these issues.  It’s also possible that President Mitt Romney might turn into Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who folded his common-sense conservative tent after getting one bloody nose in a referendum fight and aligned himself with liberal Democrats in California.  Pragmatically speaking, that allowed Schwarzenegger to win re-election.  Did that benefit Republicans in California?  Not at all, and some California Republicans believe that Schwarzenegger’s bad performance will remain a millstone around their necks for some time to come.

Again, if Romney wins the nomination, I will vote for him in November and have no trouble encouraging others to do so.  Before that time arrives, though, conservatives should take a hard look at the current field to find the most reliable conservative that has a chance at winning both the nomination and the general election.  If people conclude that’s Romney, fine, but we’re not done with the vetting process yet, either.

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Cain will be the next President, so I suggest that the other candidates supporters attempt to get in good with him now, so we can fix the nations woes as soon as President Cain is sworn in.

LeeSeneca on November 3, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Yeah!

Eff the primaries, declare Cain our nominee.

Because Lee Seneca said so!

cozmo on November 3, 2011 at 2:43 PM

chasdal on November 3, 2011 at 2:38 PM

He writes about this more in his book, but wikipedia provides a short answer thats appropriate in this setting:

Ok, here is why he was Pro Choice politically, he answered this question when Ted Kennedy accused him of being “multiple choice” in a debate:

“On the accusation of being ‘multiple-choice’, I have to respond. I have my own beliefs, and those beliefs are very dear to me. One of them is that I do not impose my beliefs on other people. Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is 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, or being multiple-choice, thank you very much.”

The person Romney was referring to was a teenage girl engaged to marry a member of Romney’s extended family. Romney’s sister Jane has said that the girl’s death changed the family’s perspective on the legality of abortion. Thus, Romney maintains that he has always followed his Church teachings and has been personally pro-life.

He changed his mind during the stem cell debate:

Romney has said his views on abortion were drastically altered on November 9, 2004 after discussing stem cell research with Douglas Melton, a stem cell researcher at Harvard University. The Harvard Stem Cell Institute was planning research that would have involved therapeutic cloning. According to Romney, Melton declared that the research “is not a moral issue because we kill the embryos at 14 days.” “I looked over at Beth Myers, my chief of staff, and we both had exactly the same reaction, which is it just hit us hard,” recalled Romney. “And as they walked out, I said, ‘Beth, we have cheapened the sanctity of life by virtue of the Roe v. Wade mentality.’

According to him, hes been pro life politically to match his personal views ever since. I believe him, others dont, but there it is.

nswider on November 3, 2011 at 2:43 PM

The question is less that Ed has an ever-present will to write, though, than whether Ed has anything useful to say this primary season compared to the last one. One could look at that positively and say that Ed might be the ultimate political writer who can put ideas into words thoughtfully, or negatively with Ed being another blogger willing to say anything that goes with the “anyone but Romney” meme to garner traffic and comments.

Andrew D on November 3, 2011 at 2:45 PM

So now NARAL is to be trusted? Tell me, do they want Romney elected?

drballard on November 3, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Of all the GOP contenders (Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Bachmann, Paul, Santorum, Romney, whom do you think NORAL would prefer as the GOP candidate? Who is the least committed to pro-life? Who is the most easily swayed?

The award for the most gullible poster goes to drballard!

bw222 on November 3, 2011 at 2:47 PM

with Ed being another blogger willing to say anything that goes with the “anyone but Romney” meme to garner traffic and comments.

Andrew D on November 3, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Ha! Ed writes something about Romney: “Mittbot!” “Romney shill!” “Stupid establishment!”

Ed writes something critical of Romney: “Just another blogger with the ABR theme!”

Abby Adams on November 3, 2011 at 2:53 PM

nswider on November 3, 2011 at 2:43 PM

Very Interesting.

Who is John Galt on November 3, 2011 at 3:18 PM

nswider on November 3, 2011 at 2:43 PM

Did this supposedly happen pre-1973? Otherwise, I don’t see how it fits with the Roe v. Wade saves lives, dammit narrative.

RachDubya on November 3, 2011 at 3:20 PM

RachDubya on November 3, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Yes it happened in 1963.

nswider on November 3, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Abby Adams on November 3, 2011 at 2:53 PM

I think you missed what I did there.

Andrew D on November 3, 2011 at 3:30 PM

Still waiting for the “Real Conservative” Great Pumpkin to rise up from the Pumpkin Patch …

rhombus on November 3, 2011 at 2:23 PM

You do know that Charlie Crist is no conservative…

kringeesmom on November 3, 2011 at 4:07 PM

I know he cannot pass the conservative “purity” test that some apply to candidates. But neither can anybody else. Perry was a democrat for Pete’s sake. He was Al Gore’s campaign chairman.

hanzblinx on November 3, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Once you’ve made a blood oath against Romney like some of the people here seem to have done, it doesn’t matter what Cain or Perry screw up on or whether they’ll lose in a landslide or not.

scotash on November 3, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Romney is a Democrat Manchurian Candidate, on top of being a big liar who will say ANYTHING to get elected – no thanks.

If I can’t have Gary Johnson as POTUS, then I’ll take Rick Perry. At least he has the right experience and the right positions and doesn’t flip-flop.

Common Sense on November 3, 2011 at 5:45 PM

Given the choice between Mussolini and Hitler, you vote for Mussolini. So yeah, I’ll vote Romney if he gets the nomination. But come on–is this the best we can do?! Good grief.

Disclaimer: Not saying anyone’s a Fascist; my point is that I’ll always choose the lesser of two poor candidates if there are no other viable options.

jazz_piano on November 3, 2011 at 6:34 PM

Ok bw222 put your thinking cap on- if naral wanted Romney to win the mom, would they put this out in the primary when the GOP wants a conservative? No, they know this hurts Romney. So why would they put this crap story out? To hurt him. It’s like watching bill maher bitching about Romney- gonna trust what he has to say? He’s looking out for the GOP? This is why Obama may win- dopes like u

drballard on November 3, 2011 at 8:20 PM

Mitt is beloved by Massachusetts GOP RINOS. A sure ticket to the White House!!!

vilebody on November 3, 2011 at 10:41 PM

Perry and Cain are not fighting over anyone that would vote for Romney as their first choice.

It’s the 76 percent that wouldn’t vote Romney no matter what.

The time to expose Romney’s lies is now.
Whoever does it first and hardest wins.

LeeSeneca on November 3, 2011 at 10:54 PM

Again, if Romney wins the nomination, I will vote for him in November and have no trouble encouraging others to do so.

Romney is the only Republican (and I use the term loosely here, he is a RINO if ever there was one) running for the Presidency for whom I could not vote. If he were the Republican nominee, then I would have to vote Libertarian in the general election (assuming that there was no true Conservative Independent running). I simply cannot vote for Romney.

Theophile on November 4, 2011 at 4:46 AM

I know he cannot pass the conservative “purity” test that some apply to candidates. But neither can anybody else. Perry was a democrat for Pete’s sake. He was Al Gore’s campaign chairman.

hanzblinx on November 3, 2011 at 1:00 PM

And at one time, Reagan was a Democrat. Such a past should not disqualify either of them.

You have to understand that, at some point in their lives, most people gain wisdom and eventually become a conservative. Romney has never done that. Perry did.

Look at what Perry has done since becoming Governor of Texas; a very good record overall. Look at what Romney did as Governor of Massachusetts; a very poor record overall.

Give me Perry. Forget Romney.

Theophile on November 4, 2011 at 4:52 AM

So support Santorum, if you want to back a true believer. That’s the obvious choice for pro-lifers who want to know for sure how the man they vote for would act if elected.

But if all you want is the best candidate to win the general, it’s Romney. And it is going to be Romney.

David Blue on November 4, 2011 at 12:03 PM

I’m going to copy and paste my response to this from the QOTD thread since I wasn’t here to address this topic when this thread was posted:

Eh. These ‘revelations’ about what he told liberal groups are a big nothing:
He has never supported gay marriage. Most Americans support Civil Unions, so his views are not out of the mainstream even for most Republicans; If Herman Cain represents the ‘unsoftened’ view of abortion and the right flank/social cons whereby abortion would be illegal even for rape victims, methinks most people would favor a “softening” of those views; His views on global warming have been weak endorsements at best – for a long time now he has said we shouldn’t risk our economic growth in pursuit of a quest to solve a problem we don’t know for a fact exists.
So, all of you Hot Airians can predict he is unelectable. I will remain a lonely contrarian at this site and say that he is.
Buy Danish on November 4, 2011 at 9:42 AM

Buy Danish on November 4, 2011 at 5:53 PM

I do not support a Constitutional amendment banning abortion. I’m just not an absolutist on the matter. I won’t vote for a candidate that takes this position.

BTW: I won’t, under any circumstances, vote for Mittsey either.

Bugler on November 4, 2011 at 9:41 PM

And at one time, Reagan was a Democrat. Such a past should not disqualify either of them.

You have to understand that, at some point in their lives, most people gain wisdom and eventually become a conservative. Romney has never done that. Perry did.

Well said. The day Romney wins the nomination, Obama has already won – one way or the other. And as George Will points out it WILL impact conservative voters enthusiasm for the down ticket candidates negatively.

Romney winning the White House would turn out to be just like David Souter’s time at the SCOTUS- nominally conservative but most overwhelmingly liberal – in Souter’s case, conservatives received a rude shock.

In Romney’s case, conservatives are blindly walking into a death trap. The way I see it an Obama win coupled with Republicans taking over the Senate and retaining Congress may not be a bad option at all and could stall further damage from this manchild president at least till 2014

nagee76 on November 5, 2011 at 6:00 AM

@BuyDanish
I respectfully disagree with you – Romney is Obama lite -when it comes to the biggest millstone for obama – which is the grotesque federally mandated health insurance, Romney cannot do anything other than chirp about how what works for Massachusetts does not work for the entire country – to which Obama will point out that Romney is nit picking and that obamacare has ideas that Romney has previously endorsed !

No one who calls himself conservative will vote for another RINO for the third consecutive presidential election (in many ways Bush was a RINO whose only saving grace was his tough stance on GWOT)- McCain was just as bad as well – after all conservatives voted for him if only to avoid obama.

When given a choice between obama and obama lite, conservatives are being asked to pick their poison… there is one more option how ever – which is neither Romney nor Obama.. and when this happens it does not matter how many “independents” Romney wins – you do not win a election by losing your base.

nagee76 on November 5, 2011 at 6:10 AM

I’m looking at voting for Newt.

davecatbone on November 5, 2011 at 8:45 AM

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