Second look at Romney?

Romney says he understands the conservative reluctance about him, and he names its source: Romneycare. “I think what happened between four years ago and today is that President Obama took his 2,700-page Obamacare bill and tried to stretch the sheep’s clothing of the Massachusetts health-care plan around it,” he says. “I think that to some Republicans that meant that I was somehow responsible for what he did. And that allowed some people to characterize me as being moderate, because it sounded like the president and I were on the same page.”…

Romney is no movement conservative, whatever those exuberant CPAC conventioneers in 2008 might have told him. What he has to sell to the right is the idea that he is a conservative by disposition, by sensibility. Before he had any discernible politics, he devoted himself to a faith that extols family values, and the line of work he chose, for all its failings, was a full-immersion experience in free enterprise. When he took up politics, he accommodated himself enough to the realities of Massachusetts to win election (see Scott Brown’s current campaign). But he makes a plausible case that he governed as conservatively as is possible in the Bay State. He tried, vainly, to finesse the abortion issue, declaring himself a defender of Roe v. Wade, but he also recanted his pro-choice stance convincingly enough (vetoing an -embryonic-stem-cell bill) to earn the commendation of the leader of Massachusetts Citizens for Life. Sununu makes the argument that Romney governed as conservatively in liberal Massachusetts as Reagan did in liberal California (where Reagan signed a law liberalizing abortion restrictions and presided over the doubling of the state budget). “In an almost paradoxical way, Reagan, pre-governor, was more conservative than when he was a governor, and Mitt Romney as a governor was more conservative than he campaigned,” Sununu says…

Meanwhile, Romney works on regaining his inevitability. He went to Florida fully aware of the concern that he’d not be able to make a forceful case against Obama this fall. “I’m not worried about the attacks that come my way,” he said. “If I can’t handle what’s coming now, when I face the onslaught of a billion dollars from the Democratic National Committee and President Obama’s campaign, I’d wither.”