Not because his possible entry into the 2016 Republican presidential contest could cause chaos for the GOP. But because Romney, apparently seeing the error of his “severely conservative” ways, has become a progressive crusader. Initial news reports noted that Romney was telling Republicans privately that should he mount a third presidential bid he would run to the right of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, an all-but-announced contender. Yet in public remarks, Romney has been sounding like a born-again lefty. At an investment management conference in Utah this week, Romney told the crowd that a new-and-improved candidate Romney would focus on climate change, poverty, and education.
Yes, climate change, poverty, and education. In a bizarre Freaky Friday sort of way, Romney appears to have been body-snatched—perhaps by the ghost of Ted Kennedy. He declared, “I’m one of those Republicans who thinks we are getting warmer and that we contribute to that,” he said of climate change. And he called for global agreements to curb greenhouse gas emissions, slamming the US government for having failed to achieve such accords. “Let’s deal with poverty,” he also proclaimed. “Have we done it? No. Let’s do it.” And to improve education, he urged more pay for teachers.
Romney, who has long had to contend with the charge that he is a serial flip-flopper, has gone far beyond the usual politically convenient change of course. It’s almost as if he has converted to Islam. What’s next? Supporting gay rights, gun control, and abortion rights? (Or, in his case, going back to supporting gay rights, gun control, and abortion rights.) In any event, this latest Mittamorphosis is a stunner, for three years ago, when he had the chance as a presidential nominee to call for climate change action and measures that directly help the poor, Romney chose not to. In fact, he did the opposite. Let’s review his short strange trip.