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Romney, Self-Described "Progressive"

Posted by: Joshua Green on December 13, 2011

Mitt Romney seems to be experiencing a death-by-a-thousand cuts, many of them made possible by the copious video/documentary record of his 1994 challenge to Ted Kennedy. It’s Romney’s misfortune that outlets like C-SPAN are digitizing and making available to the public the footage from back then — because back then Romney was running to the left, not to the right. Today’s wince-inducing video clip (if you’re a Romney staffer, that is) is this NECN report from 2002 in which Romney brags, “I’m not a partisan Republican. I’m someone that is moderate, and my views are progressive”:

Ouch. The trouble with this sort of clip is that it’s impossible to defend if you’ve subsequently changed your political persona. So the only plausible response for the Romney campaign is to attack the messenger, as Romney’s spokeswoman did to Politico today:

The very last thing the Democrats want to do is run against Mitt Romney. That is why they are focused on his campaign and not on the economy. The Democrats are continuing their campaign of deception in their strategy to ‘kill Romney.’ If anyone has a question of how Mitt Romney will govern as president, take a look at his record of creating jobs, cutting spending, and protecting the sanctity of life and traditional marriage. That was his record as Governor and that will be his record as president.

The problem with this line of response is that Democrats aren’t the ones who found and released this clip of Romney. It was discovered by a 22-year-old student and political junkie named Andrew Kacynski, who was profiled in New York magazine yesterday and revealed himself to be…a Mitt Romney supporter!

Reader Comments


December 13, 2011 10:17 PM

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December 15, 2011 12:06 AM

Romney has simply lied a number of times while trying to reinvent himself. For example:

-- "I have a gun of my own."
(Not true. He was talking about a gun one of his grown sons own.)

-- "I've been a hunter pretty much my entire life."
(He hunted once at 15, and a second time in his late 50s.)

-- "I told you what my position was, and what I, what I did as governor; the fact that I received the endorsement of the NRA."
(No - and his Democratic opponent actually had a higher NRA rating)

-- "I saw my father march with Martin Luther King."
(No, they never marched together. They were both in Michigan at the same time once, but Mitt was in France on his mission.)

-- "My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit."
(even more false...)

This last lie was the funnest because of all the waffling that Romney did trying to explain it. After a Boston newspaper showed that they couldn't have marched together, Mitt's spokesman said that "George W. Romney and Martin Luther King Jr. marched together in June, 1963 -- although possibly not on the same day or in the same city." And Mitt then explained "I've tried to be as accurate as I can be. If you look at the literature or look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes being aware of — in the sense I've described. I'm an English literature major as well. When we say I saw the Patriots win the World Series, it doesn't necessarily mean you were there -- excuse me, the Super Bowl. I saw my dad become president of American Motors. Did that mean you were there for the ceremony? No, it’s a figure of speech."


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February 29, 2012 1:56 AM

Wrong again! You seem dpieiposntad with Hannity's interview. In two minutes you expect a full defense from Romney. That is a bit ridiculous my friend. I would suggest you are still being led by the drumbeat in the media that Romney's plan is the same as Obamacare. Some sources citing their remarkable similarities when the truth is they are barely similar. If the federal bill was modeled after a state plan, why is it the crafters of the state plan were out of the loop? You think anyone even contacted Romney to learn more about it? No one did, according to Romney himself.Try looking it up yourself. Here is a great resource for all things Romney specific to the health care debate (). You will be heartened with the thoughtful explanations you missed by your self-limiting source, Hannity.You my friend are lost in this idea that the plans are the same because you just now paid attention to it. But Obama has been saying that in interviews for a year now. Its a political cheap trick. It overlooks the fact that what Massachusetts did was constitutional, but what Obama did was not. The experiment in Massachusetts was to be studied and learned from, and not imposed on states that did not share Massachusetts unique insurance population. One plan was forced upon us, the other was bi-partisan with nearly unanimous support. One bill was only 70 pages, while the other almost 3k and with the so-called Doc Fix was a thousand more. One began as a way to help the uninured and spend money they were already getting to pay for free healthcare at hospitals and pay for insurance instead. One kept health care in the private sector with decisions made by patients and their doctors, the other took over the healthcare industry and establishing bureaucacies and so called death panels to decide the level of care for all mankind. One plan actually saw more employers offer coverage to their employees, while the other even before its fully implemented is seeing business drop coverage for employees. So before you say they are the same, I would suggest that you not compare Romney's plan to Obama's. But rather compare what should be done to help the uninsured. What plan would work to preserve freedom and encourage personal responsibility and meet the needs of each state? That would be an excellent and fair comparison.Now as to your membership in the church, no explanation is even necessary. You say you are a good member and fine. I applaud you. But it matters not a whit in political discussions. If you oppose Romney, you believe it is based on his record regarding healthcare, that is fine. But why bring up your shared religion? I abhor identity politics. The sort of thing that makes African Americans believe they must vote for African Americans, Latinos for Latinos, evangelicals for evangelicals (read Huckabee), and Mormons for Mormons is divisive. It is not helpful to any discussion about politics. Lets separate church and politics so that we can come together around our shared values and love of country. This discussion is about Romney, 2012 presidential politics, and issues. There is nothing your particular faith really adds to the discussion. On the contrary, it serves as a distraction.But best regards to you. I am sorry that you are misinformed and hope you can broaden your sources for facts and all things Romney to see the whole picture rather than listen to what his detractors throw out picking up Obama's ball and running with it.Response from David Hall:Lori,I did look up the URL you gave me. While the CNN piece was little help, the Chris Wallace interview did give him the opportunity to explain more. I think I may have heard that interview back 16 months ago. Yes, I see he does express some regrets over the program and does point out some other differences between Romneycare and Obamacare. If that's his approach, maybe he can pull this off.I still think his credibility has been weakened on this issue. And it's also true that elections are fought in sound bites, so he's going to have to figure out some way to make his point in a 30-second or 60-second spot. And his reputation has this moderate Republican overtone bequeathed to him by his father. Plus, I have a problem when supposed conservatives accept the premises of the Statists, and the premise here is that it's government's responsibility to take care of the uninsured. Yes, watching these other interviews was helpful. But for me, it doesn't get him onto my A list. The situation in the country has become more dire, and I'm looking for a more solid conservative this time.And as far as identity politics, my point is precisely to take a stab at identity politics. I mention my faith only to underscore the point that I am not practicing identity politics. It's a point that needs to be made. And I'm getting hammered for this by other LDS people. I predict that a substantial majority of LDS voters will darken the oval for Mitt.

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Led by Bloomberg Businessweek's Washington correspondent, "Joshua Green on Politics" is a blog devoted to national politics and public policy issues, from Congress to the 2012 Presidential campaign trail. A special focus will be the intersection of business and politics. Follow the author on Twitter (@JoshuaGreen). To book for television or radio appearances, call Patti Straus, 212-617-3279, or e-mail

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