As a former political aide, I can testify that the words of former aides are worth notice for two main reasons: 1) they know the politician better than most and 2) the fact that they are “former” aides means their careers are no longer in the hands of the politicians they once worked for. Therefore, they are able to speak freely about their former bosses.
That’s partially why I was so interested in Nancy’s previous post discussing a recent Vanity Fair article about John McCain. It contains the following gem from a former McCain aide describing the Senator’s difficulty with social conservative issues, especially abortion and gay marriage:
Yes, he’s a social conservative, but his heart isn’t in this stuff. But he has to pretend [that it is], and he’s not a good enough actor to pull it off. He just can’t fake it well enough.”
His heart isn’t in this stuff? What a telling statement by someone who knows Senator McCain well.
Contrast that with Mitt Romney’s work on social conservative issues. While McCain was trying to fake his social conservative credentials, Romney was vetoing pro-abortion bills in Massachusetts, providing grants for abstinence education programs, and fighting for traditional marriage right up until his last day in the governor’s office. Not only is his heart in this “stuff,” but his backbone was in this stuff as well, defying liberals in a rabidly liberal environment.
And look at what Dean Barnett, Romney’s occasional driver during the 1994 Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy, had to say about Romney’s commitment to social conservative causes:
Romney is someone who at his core and in his politics shares the aims of socially conservative Republicans.…He’ll pursue the socially conservative agenda whenever there’s a chance to do so. And unlike some of our more Elmer Gantry-like Republican figures, when he makes a stand he’ll do it not just for show but to get results.
Social conservatives should opt for the candidate with the heart for “this stuff.”