As the Florida primary looms closer, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has more and more strongly identified himself as a consistent conservative and Republican voter, and in Thursday’s GOP debate he implied he always has been.
But a review of the facts paints a different picture and counters Romney’s assertions. In the past, Romney has often gone to considerable lengths to distance himself from Republicans and conservatives.
• Romney had been a lifelong independent before he decided to run for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts in 1994, the Boston Globe reported at the time.
When Romney debated Kennedy, Kennedy accused his opponent of trying to return the country to the policies of Reagan-Bush. Romney retorted: “I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. I’m not trying to return to Reagan-Bush.”
• The Los Angeles Times reported that after Romney entered the '94 Senate race, his wife Ann said: “We didn’t know a single Republican when we jumped in.”
The Times also disclosed that Romney even considered running as an independent “before rejecting the idea as impractical.”
• When House Speaker Newt Gingrich was promoting his “Contract with America” in 1994, Romney’s aides said he “had not read the document and had no plans to support it,” the Globe reported.
The Washington Times observed that Romney “criticized the Republican campaign agenda, the ‘Contract with America,’ as too partisan.”
• Brent Bozell’s Conservative Victory Committee attacked Romney in 1994 for “running away from conservative Republican themes” and espousing a “left-wing agenda.”
• Washington Post columnist David Broder observed during the 1994 Senate campaign: “Eager to show that he is a moderate independent and no ideologue, Romney stressed his support for universal health insurance and abortion rights, criticized the Republican ‘Contract with America,’ and was more outspoken than Kennedy in arguing that the Boy Scouts should not exclude homosexual youths.”
• In 1992, Romney voted in the Democratic presidential primary for Paul Tsongas, one of the most liberal Democrats in the Senate, saying Tsongas' views were more closer to his own than Bill Clinton's.
• Romney donated to the 1992 campaign of U.S. Rep. Dick Swett, a New Hampshire Democrat; Rep. John LaFalce, a New York Democrat; and Democrat Doug Anderson, who was running for the Senate from Utah.
Romney defended the donations, saying: “I don’t think they’re mortal sins,” according to the Boston Herald. Press reports suggested he made the donations because of personal relationships or business reasons.
• The Deseret News in Utah reported that Romney’s 2002 campaign for governor in Massachusetts “features an endorsement from a self-described ‘liberal Democrat’ — Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson.”
Romney returned the favor, endorsing Anderson’s re-election campaign in 2003.
Anderson later called for the impeachment of President George W. Bush for “abuses of power” and “human rights abuses.”
• Romney in 1994 “disassociated himself from Reagan and Bush policies and said he would be independent of Republican Senate leaders,” the Boston Globe reported.
“Romney offers himself as the candidate of change. What he would change from is obvious; what he would change to is still unclear.”
During the CNN debate in Jacksonville, Romney gave listeners a more emphatic impression of his past Republican credentials, saying, "I've never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot. And -- in my state of Massachusetts -- you could register as an independent and go vote in (whichever) primary happens to be very interesting. And any chance I got to vote against Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy, I took. … I have always voted for a Republican any time there was a Republican on the ballot."
Romney also stated during the debate after being elected governor of Massachusetts he became more conservative. This statement appears more truthful. On fiscal matters then Gov. Romney and Massachusetts' Democratically controlled legislature clashed frequently. Romney holds the state record for gubernatorial vetoes.
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