Some (too many) in conservative circles are currently alleging that Governor Romney was an all-out liberal in his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy–which tends to make it a bit tougher to believe that he is the true-blue conservative we say he is today. This is based largely on his now-renounced pro-choice views and various other failings on social issues. But what seems much more likely to us here is that Governor Romney was then three things: (a) a first-time political candidate, (b) a businessman, and (c) a Mormon in Massachusetts. Based on that constellation of characteristics, it would stand to reason that he hadn’t thought terribly deeply about social issues–as a businessman, he was running on a more economic platform. Plus, Senator Kennedy was doing his best to tag him with a label of bigotry and intolerance–so Governor Romney was doing his best to avoid that. In the mind of a first-time candidate who isn’t acutely aware of the importance of social issues, what does that mean? Run away from them and do things like seek the endorsement of the Log Cabin Republicans. Yes, that was wrong. But if you view the situation this way, it is a little bit more understandable.
With a narrative like that, it makes a bit of sense to see why–as he got older and wiser, not to mention ran straight into the true vision of left-wing extremists in Massachusetts–Governor Romney would gradually come to espouse straight-up conservatism across the board. But where’s the proof that on other issues he was then one of us?
Well, ask Jonathan Martin at The Politico, who posted this yesterday:
Remember Squishy Mitt From ’94?
Romney has taken on water for weeks because of the moderate stances he ran on for the Senate in ’94 and governor in ’02.
But a Romney supporter has unearthed a lit piece from the ’94 race that he says shows that Mitt wasn’t just another New England squish.
Contrasted against Sen. Kennedy’s more liberal positions are Romney’s stances on a variety of issues. Yes, his support for abortion rights is in there. But so is his backing for the death penalty, first Gulf War, and school vouchers and opposition to publicly funded campaigns. Also outlined, however, is his opposition to “Government Takeover of Healthcare” and “Require Employer Mandates” for the same. Let the McCain chuckling begin now on those last two.
Martin is largely right here–do follow the links to the lit piece. However, his bit at the end about “chuckling” is odd. Governor Romney opposed the fines the left-wing Massachusetts legislature put on employers, and he has continued to point out that his health care reform is not a government takeover. So has, um, the Heritage Foundation, whose conservative credentials are impeccable and which helped put it together.