Will the real Willard Mitt Romney please stand up?
Republicans recently have watched multiple Romneys at war with each other over abortion, ethanol, global warming, and more. Alas, this is nothing new. Various Romneys have battled themselves on issues as old as the Vietnam War.
"I longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam and be representing our country there and in some ways it was frustrating not to feel like I was there as part of the troops that were fighting in Vietnam," Hawkish Romney said in the June 24, 2007, Boston Globe while running as a conservative for 2008's GOP nomination.
But Romney sang a softer song years before while campaigning for Senate in liberal Massachusetts. "I was not planning on signing up for the military," dovish Romney said in the May 2, 1994, Boston Herald. "It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam."
Just last week, Romney spooked pro-lifers by refusing to sign the Susan B. Anthony List's pledge to nominate anti-abortion judges and other federal officials. Romney properly noted that this promise might block, say, a pro-choice spy master from leading the electronic sleuths at the National Security Agency. Still, this dust-up underscored Romney's bipolarity on this key issue.
"I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother," Pro-Life Romney wrote in the July 26, 2005, Boston Globe.
But less than three years earlier, in October 2002, Pro-Choice Romney disagreed: "Let me make this very clear. I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose."
"Government under President Obama has grown to consume almost 40 percent of our economy," Pro-Enterprise Romney said June 2. "We are only inches away from ceasing to be a free-market economy."
-"I support the subsidy of ethanol," Romney said May 27 in Iowa, however.
Four days earlier, former Minnesota Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty bravely opposed ethanol subsidies in Iowa. Nonetheless, Romney bear-hugged this boondoggle — weeks before the Senate voted 73-27 on June 16 to terminate the ethanol tax credit.
"I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that," CO2-Fighting Romney said June 3. "I think it's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants, of greenhouse gases, that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you're seeing."
"Good for Mitt Romney," former Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. wrote June 15. "While other Republicans are running from the truth, he is sticking to his guns in the face of the anti-science wing of the Republican Party."
"Governor Romney," CNN's John King asked at a June 13 GOP debate in New Hampshire, "constitutional amendment or state decision?" to ban gay marriage.
"Constitutional," replied traditional-values Romney.
Conversely, modern-values Romney, said in an August 25, 1994, interview with Boston's gay newspaper Bay Windows: "The authorization of marriage on a same-sex basis falls under state jurisdiction."
Gun-toting Romney called himself a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association in April 2007. (Actually that "lifetime" began in August 2006.)
Gun-controlling Romney declared in 1994: "I don't line up with the NRA."
Outdoorsman Romney also said in 2007: "I've been a hunter pretty much all my life." A spokesman clarified that Romney actually had hunted precisely twice: At age 15 and in 2006.
"Ronald Reagan is . . . my hero," Reagan-loving Romney said in 2005.
"I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush," Reagan-bashing Romney said in 1994, while running for the Massachusetts Senate seat against the late Edward M. Kennedy. "I'm not trying to return to Reagan-Bush."
For a change, Republicans should heed a top Democrat. Like the proverbial busted clock that is right twice daily, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada was correct Tuesday when he said about Willard Mitt Romney: "The front-runner in the Republican stakes now? Here's a man who doesn't know who he is."
(Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock(at)gmail.com)
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