Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Big Weekend for Romney

I think this week is an important one for Mitt Romney for a couple of reasons. First, March 1st there is a straw poll in Spartanburg, South Carolina that will be a revealing indicator on where Romney stands in this key primary state (it will also be very interesting to see how Giuliani fares). After several somewhat rough weeks in the press, a strong showing could help quiet the unrest. Second, the CPAC Conference in DC this weekend will give Romney the opportunity to gauge his support among some key GOP conservatives as he appears alongside the current Republican frontrunners. Romney, in my mind, needs to make a strong showing at both events. After running ads in a number of key primary states last week, he's upped the ante and if he doesn't see some bounce from it, people are going to start asking why.

It's apparent that there is still a lot of suspicion about Romney among social conservatives. This last weekend at a meeting of the Council for National Policy, prominent conservatives, including James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Grover Norquist, pushed hard to enlist South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford as a candidate because "There is no outstanding conservative, and they are all looking for that." Romney also has a lot of social conservatives who are actively attacking him (especially in the Northeast).

In spite of these hurdles, however, Romney has an enormous amount going for him. He has been a prodigious fundraiser and some liberals see him as a the candidate to beat (some might argue the other GOP candidates do too). I think these next couple of months will be telling though... starting, of course, with this weekend.

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Romney News Tidbits

A few interesting things I've run across:
  • Romney's favorite movie is Raiders Of The Lost Ark (CNN)
  • Romney raised almost $300,000 on one day last week... in Southern Utah (SL Trib)
  • Romney is attacking McCain as a mudslinger to conservative pundits (CBN)
  • "[P]eople don't know who the hell [Romney] is yet.” (SL Trib)
  • AP reports on Romney's efforts to "overcome inconsistencies" going on to say "As previous White House hopefuls have learned, once a candidate is perceived to have a pattern of inconsistency, labels like flip-flopper and waffler are extremely difficult to shake." (AP)
  • Virginia U.S. Senator John Warner has endorsed John McCain (Richmond Times)

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hotline TV - Marketing Mitt

The CEO Candidate

Slate’s Daniel Gross has an article where he links Romney’s business background to his current political trouble:
It's easy to conclude that Romney lacks core principles and will say or do anything to get elected. But I think there's something deeper at work. Romney's behavior—and the fact that he doesn't think his obvious flip-flopping should arouse suspicions—suggests that he may be the first real CEO/MBA candidate.
I applaud Gross for his great intellectual insight and courage to look beyond the easy answer to find the deeper issue. Gross continues by saying that Romney’s “flip-flops” are blasé in the board room:
But such hypocrisy, which turns off voters, is something like a job requirement for CEOs. In the executive suite, abandoning deeply held attitudes and reversing positions are job requirements.
Gross shows more about his own attitudes about corporate America than he does in proving his thesis about Romney. Indeed he speculates as to future occurrences and attributes positions to Romney:
His wife, Anne, has multiple sclerosis, yet he's opposed to embryonic stem-cell research. If an MS treatment derived from embryonic stem cells were to be developed overseas, it's a pretty sure bet that Romney would use his influence and funds to get that treatment for his spouse.
He then characterizes this hypothetical situation as some sort of hypocrisy for which Romney can be condemned in the present, as though it has already happened.

Gross is clearly advocating for an ideologue: someone who has had his same positions for his whole life. And yet at the same time wants someone to follow public opinion. He criticizes Romney for moving right when he says the public is moving left. This conflict shows the true colors of Gross’s intent. Indeed it seems that Gross just disagrees with Romney's positions. He disagrees with Romney's stance on gay rights, abortion, and stem-cell research. All of which has little to do with Romney's previous executive experience, but provides an easy link for to two targets he apparently disdains: corporate America and conservatism.

The fact is that Romney is not an ideologue. Romney understands the importance of nuance and complexity. Romney understands that while his healthcare plan in Massachusetts works for that state it may not work nationwide, that respecting gay people does not translate to recognizing gay marriage, and that there are other ways to accomplish stem cell research that doesn’t devalue the sanctity of life. These are thoughtful positions on difficult issues. Indeed Gross does get this, without recognizing its significance:
It is clear that Romney approaches politics not as a crusade.
Isn’t this the type of leadership that America is looking for?

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Internal Campaign Document

I've been a little removed from the blogosphere these past few days and have several posts on the backburner, but there's a pretty interesting article in the Globe I thought I should throw a link up to quickly. The paper received a leaked copy of an internal Romney campaign document that outlines his overall strategy, what he views Giuliani and McCain's strengths and weaknesses are and what he thinks his own strengths and weaknesses are. I'm still a little perplexed over how this was leaked. It's certainly not something the Romney camp wants out there. Any Romney-watcher should find this Globe article interesting though (I'll admit I laughed at it's last line). Like Giuliani's leaked dossier a couple months ago, this kind of document gives you a rarely seen peak into the internal workings of campaign machines.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Counter Punch

Following up on the AP polygamy story, Human Events tracks the comments of some bloggers:

The American Spectator blog's Philip Klein opines, "When I saw this outrageous story, my first thought was that it read like an Onion parody of how absurdly overboard the media goes in digging up dirt on presidential candidates. It's hard to know whether to chalk this up to liberal bias or religious bigotry that for some reason is tolerated when Mormons are involved."

Power Line blog's John Hinderaker adds, "There is something odd, though, about trying to hang the polygamy albatross around Romney's neck. One of the obvious differences between Romney and his Republican rivals is that Mitt is the only one who has been married just once. So isn't the polygamy rap a bit unfair?"

Hotair's Allahpundit isn't impressed with the AP's reporting, "One of our closest allies is two generations removed from Nazism, yet somehow it’s a scoop what Romney’s ancestors were doing 150 years ago vis-a-vis a practice his church no longer sanctions."

Update:’s James Taranto finds this reporting perplexing: “Now, this column yields to no one in our repugnance to polygamy. The Supreme Court held in 1890, "The organization of a community for the spread and practice of polygamy is, in a measure, a return to barbarism," and who are we to disagree? But Romney's church long ago renounced polygamy. He himself not only isn't a polygamist; he doesn't even practice "serial monogamy." He married his high school sweetheart, Ann, and they've been together, just the two of them and their kids, for 37 years.”

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

First Polygamy Punch

You knew it was only a matter of time. The AP has a story today today on Mitt Romney's Mormon roots, noting that his great-grandfather married a plural wife several years after the Church banned the practice.

Romney's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, married his fifth wife in 1897. That was more than six years after Mormon leaders banned polygamy and more than three decades after a federal law barred the practice.

Romney's great-grandmother, Hannah Hood Hill, was the daughter of polygamists. She wrote vividly in her autobiography about how she "used to walk the floor and shed tears of sorrow" over her own husband's multiple marriages.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Romney and time

Continuing on a theme I have developed on this blog, the editors at NRO say that Romney just needs time for conservatives to get comfortable with him:
Part of what Romney needs is simply time, and even though the campaign season is already super-charged and the news cycles relentless, he will get it. It is still ten months before anyone votes, and conservatives will get a chance to evaluate Romney's sincerity and honesty over those months.
In the process of evaluating Romney over that time, the editors say that conservatives should be more welcoming to Romney’s rightward move:
Conservative openness to converts has made it possible for moderate Republicans who found themselves moving rightward to prosper, and given ideologically malleable Republicans an incentive to adopt conservative positions. In both cases, the effect was to facilitate the country’s rightward move.
Thus, the success of the conservative movement has been in part due to gaining converts, not only among the electorate, but also amongst political leaders, and not just by replacing them. Rejecting a convert like Romney early on would do nothing to advance conservative causes, much less Republican success. Personally, I think that conservatives will come to embrace Romney because he represents so many of those ideals that conservatives espouse, even if he was not always that way.

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Romney Relishes Obama-Clinton Spat

While visiting New Hampshire today, Mitt Romney said he was enjoying the Clinton v. Obama grudge-match. "It's great, isn't it? I love to see it when it happens on the other side."

Meanwhile, Romney obeyed Reagan's 11th Commandment with respect to his main Republican rivals, describing them as "friends" and saying "I respect them. I'm sure we'll disagree on issues from time to time, but I doubt you'll see the rancor that apparently may exist elsewhere."

I have serious doubts about whether the Republican primaries will stay very amicable, especially in the South, but we can hope.

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Leno on Romney

Jay Leno joked on the Tonight Show last night that Romney's new ad ("now is not a time for talk and dithering in Washington") makes "him the first candidate to come out against dithering."

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Hitting McCain on Global Warming

Mitt Romney issued a press release today hitting McCain on his support for measures to combat global warming. It's clearly in response to McCain's comments yesterday at a campaign event with Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. McCain attacked President Bush on climate change, saying that he viewed "the administration's record on global warming as terrible."

Romney, in his press release, countered:
"Unfortunately, some in the Republican Party are embracing the radical environmental ideas of the liberal left. As governor, I found that thoughtful environmentalism need not be anti-growth and anti-jobs. But Kyoto-style sweeping mandates, imposed unilaterally in the United States, would kill jobs, depress growth and shift manufacturing to the dirtiest developing nations.

"Republicans should never abandon pro-growth conservative principles in an effort to embrace the ideas of Al Gore. Instead of sweeping mandates, we must use America's power of innovation to develop alternative sources of energy and new technologies that use energy more efficiently."

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Romney Zeroes In On Hillary

At a campaign event in South Carolina yesterday, Mitt Romney spoke at length on Iran, criticizing Clinton for "a lack of understanding" in advocating engagement with Iran. I'm wondering if the strategy is to provoke Clinton in some way on this issue. Instigating an Obama-Clinton-like public debate with Clinton on Iran would be a dream scenario for Romney in my mind. It would allow him to burnish his foreign policy credentials while opposing someone who is a pretty polarizing figure among his Republican base. It is to this end I think Romney is circulating a letter he wrote Clinton and several other New York politicians calling for them to "launch a policy of strategic disinvestment from companies linked to the Iranian regime."

I can't find the full text of his remarks yesterday, but the Globe quotes him as saying: "You don't want to reward bad behavior. . . . We want to squeeze the pressure on that country and get them on the right track. . . . We don't want to give a signal of support or accomplishment to someone like [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad."

The Globe also noted what it saw as an implied shot at Giuliani and McCain: "Romney's wife, Ann, played a particularly prominent role last night, as Romney made a special effort to highlight the fact that he's been married to the same woman for almost 40 years. "She's been the person behind me all my life," Romney said. Left unsaid: His chief Republican rivals, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor , have each divorced at least once."

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Equivocating Bopp?

A day after writing a National Review article strongly advocating Mitt Romney's pro-life credentials, I was surprised to find James Bopp, Jr. seeming to equivocate on Romney a little in an interview with the Politico yesterday:
"I don’t know yet about Romney," Bopp admits. "I’m not really sure where [abortion] will ultimately fit in his agenda. He's still on a journey."
Seems to me that this sort of response plays into the concerns that Romney has been trying to lay to rest over just where he stands.

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Hope still for Romney?

After the comments on Romney’s position on abortion, I thought it was fitting that Kathryn Jean Lopez has a nice summation of many of those same comments from others in the political realm. She readily acknowledges the barrage that Romney has been under, but comes to this quote by Larry Sabato:
“Romney can be saved — no religious pun intended,” University of Virginia professor and oft-quoted horserace expert Larry Sabato tells NRO. “A presidential campaign, especially this one, is a long and winding road. He has the money, the basic skills, and the fundamental charisma to overcome his challenges.”
Indeed, sometimes we act as though this is February of 2008. As I’ve stated before, for Romney the long campaign favors him. He is not well enough known for people to get bored of him. And the early fire goes mostly unnoticed by the general electorate. The fundamentals of a presidential campaign are in place: money and organization. Few other candidates can boast that. And despite the negativity coming from the press and other candidates, Romney continues to raise large amounts of money and gain endorsements. This seems to be a better indicator, at the present, of Romney’s chances as a candidate than the flavor-of-the-week attacks that we’ve seen of late.

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Romney News Round Up

Several articles on Mitt Romney worth noting as well as some endorsements and a few other interesting tidbits:

New Articles
  • This week's issue of Newsweek reviews the concerns on Romney's policy shifts and faith (). Although it's hashing through some very already hashed through ground, it has some a few new stories and quotes that make it worth the read. Overall I think it's pretty fair:
    "Romney may ultimately win over doubters on the right. 'There is a subtle prejudice in that flip-flop charge,' says Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. "People who are liberal can't understand why someone might move from a more-liberal position to a more-conservative position. Conservatives don't see it that way. They see it as someone who has seen the light.' Christian media strategist DeMoss notes that evangelism is all about conversion, so, he says, 'we accept an evangelical's conversion if he told us it happened this morning.' Romney's reputation as a family man with a wife of 37 years and five proud sons will also help with conservatives. Among top-tier candidates, Romney is more appealing to the Christian right than John McCain or Rudy Giuliani. Romney is beginning to get some important backers, too: he has the political machine of former Florida governor Jeb Bush behind him, an immensely important asset if, as predicted, Florida moves up its primary. (Bush's parents, George H.W. and Barbara, are said to be fond of Romney.)"
  • The New Republic yesterday mused over whether Romney could win the a Republican Primary. In a pretty odd article, it brands Romney "a ghost of Republicanism past: a moderate," and wonders whether Romney's announcement at Henry Ford's museum in Dearborn last week was some sort of strategic move to invite condemnations of Ford's anti-semitic views and get lambasted by the "liberal" press. "Get branded such a villain by our liberal elites, and you also might win a Republican primary. Mitt Romney may wish to bestow on us an America of hybrid cars, and, as he said in his speech, one 'defined not only in terms of our might, but also by our willingness to lead, to serve, and to share.' But, to get there he'll have to first prove he's part of the conservative tribe--whatever it takes."
  • On the stump in Iowa on Monday, Romney reiterated his view that we should continue to push diplomatic isolation with Iran. "I do not believe that formal engagement and negotiation at this time with Iran would do anything other than give (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad an enormous win. And it's the last thing we should be considering."
  • Romney held a fundraiser in Utah on Tuesday and was warmly received as Utah's "adopted son." "People [in Utah] don't heckle the Massachusetts Mormon about 'knowing the Lord.' They don't consider the presidential candidate a pretender. They don't even mind that his primary goal is to charm the checkbooks off of them." Romney has the overwhelming support of most of Utah's Republican politicians. In conjunction with his fundraiser, Romney also issued a press release announcing the endorsement of a lopsided majority of Utah's legislature (40 Representatives and 16 Senators) as well as that of Lt. Governor Herbert.
  • Romney also announced his Georgia leadership team on Tuesday, it includes several congressmen and other prominent state officials .
Other Tidbits
  • When asked about Mitt Romney and his faith on CNN's Late Edition on Sunday, fellow Latter-day Saint and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: "I've never met Mitt Romney. But I say, religion should not have anything to do with who's going to be president or not be president."
  • At the Utah fundraiser on Tuesday, Senator Orrin Hatch said of Romney: "He's the one the Democrats fear the most. He's articulate, he's smart, he's attractive." Hatch also said that said if Romney could win the presidency if he could get past those who are prejudiced against Mormons.
  • This is a little old, but last week Pat Robertson announced that Romney will be the commencement speaker at Robertson's Regent University's this May.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

More Debate Footage

Footage from the 2002 gubernatorial debate between Mitt Romney and Shannon O'Brien made the rounds yesterday.

Kathryn Jean Lopez at the Corner says "This certainly isn't going to be Romney's week among the blogospheric chattering class... Not new, but doesn't help to watch." In response, the Politico reports that Romney's campaign is trying a new tack on abortion this week, attacking McCain's position by accusing him of "ducking" the issue. The National Review's Lopez criticizes the tactic saying "They are legitimate questions to be asking. But I'm not sure Romney's camp is in a convincingly credible position to be asking them at the moment."

On the press that Romney is receiving, even among conservative circles, the National Review's Rich Lowry says a friend recently pointed out that "Romney is the victim of the rules changing. It used to be that it was expected that Republicans would become more conservative when they ran for the nomination, and conservatives would welcome it. But Romney has changed on so much so recently, in the age of YouTube and especially against the back-drop of the recent assault on Kerry's flip-flops, that he's getting hammered."


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Bopp on Romney

At the National Review Online, James Bopp Jr. writes at length about why conservatives should support Romney, while also taking some parting shots at both Giuliani and McCain. Of Romney's conversion on social issues, Bopp writes:
[H]ow is the sincerity of a conversion to be measured? There are two salient considerations in this regard: first, some defining moment that prompted a change of heart; second, the fact that deeds speak louder than words. Romney’s conversion exhibits both. First, Romney has had a life-changing event. It was when he was governor and researchers were proposing embryonic cloning at Harvard. As he recounts it, one of the researchers said that there “wasn’t a moral issue, because . . . they destroy the embryos at 14 days.” Romney said that “it struck me that we have so cheapened the value of human life in this country through our Roe v. Wade decision that someone could think that there is no moral issue to have racks and racks of living human embryos and then destroying them at 14 days.”
Of Giuliani and McCain, Bopp says:
Giuliani is simply not a social conservative. He is pro-choice, pro-partial birth abortion, and pro-special rights for homosexuals. He is also pro-gun control. Senator McCain opposes the federal marriage amendment, supports embryonic stem-cell research, and was a ringleader of the Gang-of-14 compromise that made it easier for Democrats to block President Bush’s judicial nominees. Also, he is the principal sponsor of the McCain-Feingold bill, which imposes severe limits on the participation of citizens groups and political parties in our representative democracy.

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Ads in Response to a Pretty Bad Week

It's been a pretty bad week for Mitt Romney and it doesn't seem to be lightening up (here's another Post Op-Ed on Romney's "extreme makeover"). Several Romney revelations this past week seem to have irked some conservatives. Over at The Corner, Yuval Levin mulls over news that Romney might have become pro-choice just to run in Massachusetts. He says "Flip flops on abortion are a fairly common feature of political resumes in the past few decades. But Romney’s flip flops are both more recent and apparently more frequent than most. He’s done some work to explain them (and some of his record in office helps too), and has made real inroads with social conservatives. But it certainly looks like more work remains." And at RedState, one-time Romney cheerleader Erick Erickson withdrew his support for Romney: "I think I'm done with the campaign of Willard Mitt Romney. I'm tired of it. His campaign and the potential for his nomination has jumped the shark. No Republican candidate for President has ever more deserved the title 'Multiple Choice Mitt.'"

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Romney has decided to make a major ad purchase, something that is unprecedented this far out from the primaries. I think it's a pretty bold move aimed at defusing this recent negative press run. The ad is set to air tomorrow in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan and Florida. To me it comes off as a good, positive ad. Question is, will it be enough to help Romney define his candidacy on his own terms?

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Peeking In On McCain

It's been awhile since we've checked in on ole' John McCain, who was on the campaign trail this weekend, choosing to skip what he termed a "political stunt" in DC (the vote on non-binding resolution against the surge). All in all, he's had a pretty good week. The National Journal reports that "the straight-talk express is shining even brighter these days in light of the media mindset forming around a certain other top WH ’08 GOPer labeled as a conservative flip-flopper." The National Journal as reports that he was well-received in South Carolina and his strong remarks on Roe vs. Wade and Donald Rumsfeld were "well received." A couple of things worth noting:

Endorsements: Sunday, McCain announced that former U.S. Senator Mike DeWine will lead his campaign in Ohio, a relatively notable pick-up. He's also picked up the support U.S. Senator John Thune and former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas. Gramm even penned an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal today explaining why McCain was the right candidate: "I believe the man we need to meet the mortal need today is here. He is experienced, but has not lost his common sense or his ability to be outraged. His conservatism is not the result of a studied philosophy, but of common sense and personal observation. His name is John McCain. He might not be the right president for all times, but he is the right president for these times." Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating also endorsed Romney, introducing him at a campaign event in South Carolina yesterday as the "only candidate who is a true-blue, Ronald Reagan conservative."

Flip-Flopping: While campaigning in South Carolina yesterday, McCain told the crowd "I do not support Roe vs. Wade. It should be overturned." He also said that he would appoint judges who "strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench." Interestingly, this is a bit of a flip-flop for McCain, who said in 1999: "I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to (undergo) illegal and dangerous operations." He also attacked the performance of Donald Rumsfeld, calling him "one of the worst secretaries of defense" in history. A departure from the much softer words he had for Rumsfeld last November when Rummy stepped down.

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And The Beat Goes On...

The press blitz on Romney continues. As opposed to some of the more favorable press this weekend, however, this is not all as positive. In tomorrow's Washington Post there is a particularly harsh Op-Ed on Romney. Much of the other press goes beyond his religion though, focusing on Romney's position on gays in the military and stem cell research, joining the NRA, and voting in the Democratic primaries 15 years ago.

  • In tomorrow's Post, there is a very biased Op-Ed on Romney by Richard Cohen: "Since all politicians, like lovers and mattress salesmen, lie a bit, we do not expect purity. But Romney has taken things too far. I don't know whether he has any respect for himself, but he sure as hell has none for us."
  • Romney's ABC interview this past weekend continues to get play. The Washington Post has a story today picking up on Romney's support for the current military policy on gays. It quotes him saying: "'Don't ask, don't tell' has worked well. We're in the middle of a conflict. Now is not the time for a change in that regard, and I don't have a policy posture as to allowing gays in the military to serve there openly." The Boston Globe, meanwhile, picks up on Romney's admission that he joined the NRA last August as he began the run up to forming his exploratory committee: "Romney said Sunday during an interview on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that he'd signed up for a lifetime membership with the NRA 'within the last year.'" Several press outlets have also parsed on Romney's explanation during the interview on why he voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas in the 1992 presidential primaries. In the interview aired Sunday, Romney said back then "When there was no real contest in the Republican primary, I'd vote in the Democratic primary, vote for the person who I thought would be the weakest opponent for the Republican." In 1994, however, he apparently told the Boston Globe that "he voted for former U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas in the state's 1992 Democratic presidential primary, saying he did so because Tsongas was from Massachusetts and because he favored his ideas over those of Bill Clinton."
  • The Associated Press has a story on Romney's position on Stem Cell research today. It seems to mischaracterize what I understand his position to be though (i.e., in support of the use of excess frozen embryos from IVF clinics that would be destroyed anyhow, but opposed to somatic cell nuclear transfer (therapeutic cloning) and any sort of embryo farming (Here's another more detailed article on what his publicly stated position has been). The source for the article is a new AP interview with Romney. My question is whether this a change in position by Romney? Is he now taking a harder line than he's previously let on?

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Romney on Fox News

Here are two videos. The first is a roundtable discussion about how the media has portrayed Romney's religion in the media. I think we've hit the major points and different arguments here on this blog, but it's a good discussion from people other than Romney supporters.

The second is Romney's appearance on the O'Reilly Factor. O'Reilly talks to Romney first about Jessica's law, then Iraq, and Iran.

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Baptists endorsing a Mormon?

The Cleburne News out of Alabama has an interesting piece about U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, a Baptist, endorsing Mitt Romney. However, it goes on to describe Rogers’ reach out efforts to local Baptist church leaders:

Rogers touched base with several leaders within the Southern Baptist communities - including Daniel Harper, pastor of Saks Baptist Church, which is Rogers’ home church and Al Jackson, pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, which is the largest congregation in Rogers’ district, among others. None believed Romney’s Mormon background would be an issue.

“And to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised,” Rogers said. “What really matters is Gov. Romney’s stand on the issues.”
This is a significant difference from what major newspapers are telling the public. Instead of standing their ground for theological reasons and opposing Romney, it seems more that Evangelicals will likely support the candidate they feel best represents their values, regardless of religion. The article describes this as something almost unsurprising:

As a voter, Gilmore doesn’t envision any specific stumbling blocks between Romney and Rogers, despite their theological differences.

“The differences between the Southern Baptist Church and the Mormon Church are core differences,” he said. “I don’t see how those issues would come into play in a political venue. Socially their views are similar, and politically their viewpoints are similar. Two people with so much in common are bound to get along nicely.”

Perhaps such interfaith pairings could open the eyes of those standing on once-opposing sides of the pulpit.

“I think Baptists could work comfortably with anyone,” Sewell says. “As long as it’s with someone whose moral values and political values are close to ours, we can all get along.”

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McLaughlin Group debates Romney

An interesting point made here is that ultimately questions about Romney's faith will become an asset to him as he gets to talk about values. I think that is evidenced in the previous post video showing the crowd's reaction to a heckler. The biggest question the Group sees is his shift to the right: will people find him credible.

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Video of Romney Responding to Heckler

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Much Ado About Mormonism

The press coverage on Mitt Romney's Mormonism has rolled into the weekend. The Washington Post, in particular, ran a number of substantive articles that discussed Romney and his faith. Much of this press argues that Romney's faith should not be a campaign issue. In all, I found most of these articles to be fair and pretty positive. While I think the issue of Romney's faith is sure to come up repeatedly over the next year, from the tone of this coverage, I think the myopic focus might be easing up a bit. Here's a sampling:

This Week With George Stephanopoulos (ABC News): ABC aired a recent interview this morning with both Ann and Mitt Romney. It's worth a read. In it, Ann said she thought the press coverage of her husband's faith was "a little unfair" while Mitt said of his relationship to the LDS Church, "I'm not running for pastor-in-chief. I'm running for commander-in-chief. So the best place to go for my church's doctrines would be my church." The transcript of interview can be found here and the video here. Reaction to the interview can be found here.

Romney Jumps In (Washington Post): The Post editorial page discussed what it viewed as the strengths and weaknesses of Romney's candidacy. It ended by saying "One challenge that Mr. Romney faces is something that we hope dissipates as an issue over time: winning over voters uneasy about his Mormon faith. In a Gallup poll this week, a disturbing 24 percent said they would not vote for a "generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be Mormon." Mr. Romney's religion could be a particular sticking point with evangelical Christians who wield significant clout in GOP primaries. As with another Massachusetts politician who ran for the presidency more than four decades ago and persuaded voters not to hold his Catholicism against him, Mr. Romney should be judged on a basis other than his faith."

What Matters About Romney (Washington Post): Written by a Latter-day Saint on the Post's editorial staff, this article discusses why Romney's faith might be garnering the attention it has and says: "But regardless of how uncomfortable some of these characteristics make some feel, it is unproductive to focus on Romney's Mormonism. A candidate's faith, like that of an L.A. high school student or anyone else is ultimately a complex and personal phenomenon, even in the context of a highly centralized religious organization. My experience in Mormon congregations across the country has taught me that it is impossible to tell precisely how individual Mormons will apply their religious principles to their professional lives. And beyond encouraging hard work and honesty, the church itself is hardly definitive on the subject. Consider the divergent examples of other well-known Mormons -- those of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), say."

What Is Mormonism? (Washington Post): Richard Ostling, the author the book Mormon America and a widely-read Time magazine article on the LDS Church, gives a brief run-down of Mormonism. The article is accurate, but some might object to its heavy focus on elements of the Church that Ostling thinks might be problematic for voters. In the end he says: "Will any of this matter to Romney during his presidential campaign? The Constitution demands that the government impose "no religious test" for holding public office. Yet voters make their own choices and public opinion polls show that when it comes to Mormons, many people do worry. When a recent USA Today-Gallup poll asked respondents whether they would vote for a qualified woman, Mormon or black candidate to be president, the results were striking. About 94 percent said they would vote for a black nominee, 88 percent said a woman and 72 percent said a Mormon. In the current field, that could spell trouble for Romney."

A Man With A Mission (Washington Post): This is a fascinating article that I highly recommend reading. It pieces together a collection of reminiscences about Romney from a former LDS missionary companion of Romney's in France, a couple of High School friends, several former business associates, the COO/CFO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, his former Lieutenant Governor, and a former political opponent. Most are glowing in their praise of Romney, while a couple criticize him somewhat on abortion.

Romney Candidacy Will Stir Up Anti-Mormon Feeling (Salt Lake Tribune): This is a pretty unique article by a Latter-day Saint who is not excited about Mitt Romney's run for president. He's not opposed to Romney, to the contrary likes him, but he fears the inevitable anti-Mormon attacks in the primaries. He says: "Romney could be a terrific president. Given the choice, I'd probably vote for him. But with the minuscule possibility of ever getting that choice, I question the cost. The thought of things sacred to Latter-Day Saints being discussed on "The Today Show" is not something I look forward to."

Romney's Religion Shouldn't Matter, But It Does (The Decatur Daily): This is a good article that argues strongly that Romney's faith should not be an issue, but concedes that it will be nonetheless: "Given the poll numbers, Romney has little choice but to give a public address about the relationship of faith and politics in his life. . . . There’s plenty to debate in Romney’s positions on public policy without getting distracted by the non-issue of where he goes to church. Unfortunately, prejudice against Mormons leaves Romney little choice."

Romney Responds to Religious Heckler in Florida (St. Petersburg Times): At a speech in Florida this weekend, Romney was heckled by a man who said: "You sir, you are a pretender. You do not know the Lord, you are a Mormon." Romney drew a standing ovation with his calm response "Let me offer just a thought. One of the great things about this great land is we have people of different faiths and different persuasion, but we need to have a person of faith to lead this country." Afterwards, Romney many of those in attendance "lavished praise" on Romney.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Romney Volunteer Opportunity in D.C.

The volunteer coordinator for a Mitt Romney Booth at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. is seeking volunteers. If you're interested, the Conference will be held on March 1st through the 3rd. Information about the opportunity is below:
The Romney Campaign is looking for volunteers to help at the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) being held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, in Washington DC, on March 1st-3rd (Thurs – Sat). Essentially, we are looking for people to help man the Governor’s booth and work the floor handing out flyers, campaign literature, etc. to help the Governor show a strong presence. The conference floor will be open 9am-6pm Thursday and Friday, and 9am – 3pm (approx) on Saturday. We’d like to have 20-30 volunteers on the floor at any given time.

The Campaign will cover the registration for each volunteer. Additionally, Governor Romney will be speaking at the conference and will be hosting a reception for his volunteers and supporters. This is an excellent opportunity to get involved with the Romney campaign, meet important players, and get some good campaign experience.

We will have three 3-hour shifts (9a-12p, 12p-3p, 3-6p). If you are interested in being involved, please contact Shelly Astle at You are welcome to offer as much time as possible. If you can help for the full conference or a full day, great! If you can come for less time, let us know – we’d still appreciate your help!

This will also be good jumping off point for helping out in further events with the campaign, so please come help us out and spread the word to anyone else you think might want to get involved.

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Romney News Media Round Up

To follow up on Kyle's recent post on how the press covered Mitt Romney's announcement this last week, I thought I'd do another media round up. I've been away from the blog for a few days, and there's been some interesting stories:

Romney's Mormonism
Poll Numbers Looking Up - Much has been made about the large numbers of people who say they couldn't vote for a Mormon. The numbers seem to be softening a little though. 72% of those polled by USA Today last week said they could vote for a Mormon, much better than the thirty-something% of people that other polls have shown saying they couldn't. A closer look at the numbers suggest Romney still has his work cut out for him (58% said they could vote for a Mormon without reservation, 14% said they could with reservations, 24% said they could not, and 4% weren't sure). All in all, it's good news for Romney though, given how bad some polls have been in this respect.

Will Mormon Faith Hurt Bid For White House - In light of its new poll numbers, USA Today takes a look at Romney's faith and the hurdles he might face. "The emergence of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a Mormon waging a strong campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, spotlights a religion often viewed as odd despite its rapid growth and attempts to go mainstream. Hartley and others say they welcome the scrutiny. For Romney, set to announce his candidacy today, it may be less than a blessing."

Romney's Announcement
Romney's Family Values - "Just before Republican Mitt Romney formally embarked on his race for the White House, his high school sweetheart and wife of nearly four decades, Ann, called him to the podium in glowing terms. Their five grown sons, five daughters-in-law and 10 grandchildren gathered nearby. The images and speech provided far-from-subtle campaign messages -- an unspoken claim that Romney is an actual practitioner of family values and the spoken argument of the need to strengthen the country's families. . . . The family image was a reminder of how Romney differs from his top GOP rivals, the once-divorced Sen. John McCain and the one divorce, one annulment Rudy Giuliani. It also echoed of a more famous political family from Massachusetts -- the Kennedys." (Romney Announces Candidacy With Family)

Romney Downplays Massachusetts - I think the Boston Globe is still a little bitter that Romney chose to announce in Michigan: "It's been his foil, his punch line, and his source of political achievement, but yesterday Massachusetts earned just two passing mentions in Mitt Romney's presidential announcement." Friday, however, Romney "came home": "With the Boston skyline as a backdrop, Mitt Romney reclaimed Massachusetts as his home state last night, telling hundreds of supporters at a fund-raiser for his presidential campaign, 'My lifetime has been spent with you.'"

Parsing Romney's Speech - Over at the Fix, Chris Cillizza breaks down Romney's announcement speech. (Analyzing Romney's Announcement Speech)

Romney's Wife Ann
ABC Interview - ABC aired a fascinating interview with Ann Romney, who opens up about her battle with MS, her conversion to Mormonism, and her thoughts on her husband's candidacy (she says she is "totally onboard with it"). The Boston Globe had a run down of the interview yesterday. I think this was a good thing for Mitt, it really humanized him. We haven't heard all that much from Ann up to this point, if Romney's smart, we'll hear more.

Campaigning and Endorsements
Battle Over Massachusetts - Former acting Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift endorsed McCain over Romney last week (her opinion mattered again for all of 10 seconds). While Swift certainly has bones with Romney, the GOP in Massachusetts has certainly not been lining up behind Romney. Three prominent GOP State Senators were the latest Massachusetts Republicans to announce their support for non-Romney candidate, this time it was Giuliani.

Good News From Florida - "Jeb Bush, who hasn't publicly picked a favorite in the Republican presidential race, privately is talking up the candidacy of Mitt Romney and steering some of his closest advisers to the campaign." (Jeb Bush Steers Advisors Toward Romney).

Fundraising Juggernaut - Romney raised more than $1 million at a fundraising event in Boston on Thursday. Whatever his hurdles he may have, fundraising is not one of them. I think Romney will make some serious waves and raise a lot of eyebrows when he announces his first quarter's fundraising totals on March 31st.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Faith target for media bias surrounding Romney campaign

There’s a piece by Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post entitled “The Latter-Day Candidate.” Kurtz starts off like this:

The press seems downright excited at the prospect of the first female president.

The idea of the first black president has journalists all but giddy.

But the first Mormon president? Whoa! That's a different matter.

The skeptical tone toward Mitt Romney's announcement has been impossible to miss. And the major reason is his religion.

"Will Mormon faith hurt bid for White House?" said USA Today's front-page headline on the day that the former Massachusetts governor announced.

Try to imagine a headline that said, "Will Jewish faith hurt bid for White House?"

Obviously, reporters are raising the issue because of polls showing that a chunk of the public wouldn't vote for a Mormon commander-in-chief--24 percent in a USA Today poll yesterday. But I believe the passive acceptance of this political "fact"--as opposed to, say, questioning opposition to gay marriage or civil unions--reflects a mindset that Mormonism is kind of weird and therefore okay to treat as a fringe movement.
Kurtz reveals an interesting phenomena. While most people, including Mormons, expect this sort of coverage, it does seem odd in this day and age when many groups that were previously reviled are now accepted, if not in the general public then in the media. However, today’s media seems content to continue venting prejudices about Mormons. Kurtz continues:

Would you use this blind quote, as New York magazine did?

" 'Look, let's be honest, Mormons are weird,' says a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate from Massachusetts, voicing a view widely shared by secularists and Evangelicals alike."

I sure wouldn't.

Neither would I, but of course I am a little biased.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hotline TV - Chuck Todd: "Underestimate Romney At Your Own Risk"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It's Official

Mitt Romney's now as official as you can be (here's his remarks in their entirety):
"Innovation and transformation have been at the heart of America's success. If there ever was a time when innovation and transformation were needed in government, it is now. We have lost faith in government, not in just one party, not in just one house, but in government. We are weary of the bickering and bombast, fatigued by the posturing and self-promotion. For even as America faces a new generation of challenges, the halls of government are clogged with petty politics and stuffed with peddlers of influence. It is time for innovation and transformation in Washington. It is what our country needs. It is what our people deserve. . . .

"This Christmas, Ann and I gathered my five sons and five daughters-in-law to ask them whether I should run for President. We talked about the special time this is in the history of America - the challenges and the opportunities. We talked about the qualities that are needed in our leaders. They were unanimous. They know our hearts. They know our values. They know my experience innovating and transforming, in business, in the Olympics, and in Massachusetts. And they know we love this country.

"And so, with them behind us, with the fine people of Michigan before us, and with my sweetheart beside me, I declare my intention to run for President of the United States."

It's Showtime...

All the throat-clearing is nearly over and today it will finally be official... Mitt Romney's running for president. He's announcing from his boyhood home in Dearborn, Michigan, something that allows him to "reflect his Midwestern and middle-class values... it's much harder to do that from Massachusetts and much easier to do from Michigan." He'll announce today in front of "800 core supporters at the Henry Ford Museum" before heading off to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in a three-day swing. The icing on the cake? His press coverage will roll over onto Valentine's Day.

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McCain v. Romney

The Washington Post looks into the battle between Mitt Romney and John McCain for conservative support, especially the elusive social conservatives: "McCain and Romney have significant hurdles to overcome if they are to win the support of conservative Christians, who by one estimate make up a quarter of the electorate and at least 40 percent of the Republican base."

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Romney Weekend News Round Up

This was a pretty rich weekend presswise:

Romney Defends Experience (Columbia Tribune): "'I certainly wouldn’t want to compare myself to any other Republican,' Romney said Saturday during the Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Days gathering. 'We all have our own distinct and unique capabilities and experiences. I spent my life in the private sector. In the private sector, I made a habit and a practice to work throughout the world. I made investments like Italy and Germany and negotiated transactions in China and Russia. I helped oversee businesses in Russia and Japan. So I spent my life working in the world of international trade.' Romney also said his experience taking control of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was a prime example of his executive leadership. 'I helped organize the successful and safe gathering of nations,' Romney said, 'and, of course, I served as governor and been on the Homeland Security Advisory Council for the nation' . . . .Romney also noted that being governor prepared him to be the nation’s chief executive. 'Perhaps one of the greatest diplomats and leaders in the world of foreign affairs was Ronald Reagan, who served not in the Senate but in the governor’s chair," he said. "I think you look over the history of America, you’ll find a lot of great presidents have been governors. So I wouldn’t disqualify anyone based on their opportunity to serve as governor.'"

Religion and Social Issues

Romney's Faith May Be Political Issue (Concord Monitor): This article discusses the hurdles Romney's Mormon faith might pose, especially in New Hampshire, a key early state in the primaries. "In New Hampshire, [religious] themes aren't likely to play as loudly as elsewhere. The evangelical community is reportedly growing in the state but still represents a tiny portion of the population. Pinckney, who researched the churchgoing population when he first came to the region, estimates that only about 10 percent of people in the greater Concord area attend church regularly, despite what they may tell pollsters. Evangelicals probably represent fewer than half of them, he said."

Romney's Stem Cell View May Upset The Right (Boston Globe): "Unlike many on the right, Romney supports research on excess embryos created during fertility treatments. Because couples are making embryos to have a baby, he reasons, it is ethical to use the leftovers for research when they would otherwise just be discarded. Romney's position, however, is at odds with the views of many conservative anti abortion activists, who believe that any work on stem cells derived from human embryos is wrong, because it destroys the embryos in the process. Some say Romney's views make him unacceptable to many voters and will complicate his attempt to win the 2008 GOP nomination by appealing to the party's conservative flank."

'08 Presidential Candidates and Campaign
Backers And Money: Romney, Other Hopefuls In Early Fight To Stand Out In '08 Presidential Race (Deseret News): "An early need for a lot of money and even more supporters in the 2008 presidential election is driving White House hopeful Mitt Romney and other contenders to start their campaigns before the first primary date is even set in stone."

Giuliani Fares Well For GOP Moderate (LA Times): "Beyond geography, another dynamic working in Giuliani's favor now is the emerging mix of top-tier Republican candidates. Both of his chief opponents, McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, have their own frictions with social conservatives. And neither has focused on the moderates most likely to gravitate to Giuliani."

Mike Huckabee On This Week With George Stephanopoulos (ABC News): Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee threw some shots at Romney yesterday on ABC's This Week: "I'm not as troubled by a person who has a different faith. I'm troubled by a person who tells me their faith doesn't influence their decisions. Because if a person says to me, 'Here's my faith, but it doesn't influence me at all,' what it says to me is: 'My faith isn't very significant.'"

Romney Drawing Support From Many Of Missouri's Top Republicans (AP): Romney appears to be making serious headway in Missouri: "Missouri's presidential primaries are a full year away, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appears to have some early momentum. Romney, who plans to formally announce his presidential candidacy Tuesday, already is garnering the support of many of Missouri's top Republicans. And he was the headline attraction Saturday night for hundreds of Republicans gathered at their annual Missouri Lincoln Days conference. The catalyst behind Romney's growing Missouri rapport appears to be Matt Blunt, who until he became governor two years ago did not even know Romney. Now Blunt considers Romney both a personal and political friend."

Romney Pushes His Conservative Credentials In Iowa
(Quad City Times): It appears Romney still has some headway to make in Iowa: "Iowa GOP activist Chuck Hurley, who serves a president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, said some social conservatives in the state are skeptical of Romney. “I’m guessing that there are some people who have clearly made up their mind that he can’t be trusted, that it’s, you know, pandering,” Hurley said."

Romney, Brownback Address Michigan GOP (AP): "Republicans Mitt Romney, son of a Michigan governor, and Sam Brownback promoted their presidential campaigns Saturday before nearly 3,000 party activists at their state convention." Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty represented John McCain at the event. According to a local TV outlet, things got a little heated: "The tension between the Republican presidential camps -- especially between supporters of Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney-- was clear as nearly 3,000 Republican activists met Saturday for their state convention."

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Revealing National Journal Interview

Last Friday's National Journal took an in depth look at Romney's candidacy and has what in my view is one of the most substantive interviews Mitt Romney has given since he started exploring his presidential bid last year. (The article and interview can be found at the National Journal's website, but note that a subscription is required to access them).

The article discusses how Goodridge v. Department of Public Health (the case holding that Massachusetts had no "constitutionally adequate" reason for prohibiting gay marriage) shaped Romney's tenure as governor and precipitated his "journey to the right." It also explores the alternatives that Romney and his team considered in deciding how to frame his candidacy.

The actual interview branches out covers a broad spectrum of issues. I've included some highlights below:

Health Care: Romney answers several questions in depth about health care and makes clear that he considers it one of his most significant accomplishments in the Governor's office. He talks about how he thinks the issue is best left to the states, though he thinks there are things the federal government can do to help, like allowing to buy their insurance in pre-tax dollars. He talks about why he doesn't always bring up health care in speeches as much as some would think he might and why he avoids the term "universal coverage." He explains:
In some audiences, they are very interested in health care and I go into it in some depth and in others I just touch on it lightly, but there's no question I consider the accomplishment of bringing market-based reforms to health care an enormous step forward for our state and potentially for the nation. The fact that a number of other states are experimenting with the same philosophy we brought to bear is also encouraging. Now, I don't use the words "universal coverage," because it typically conjures in people's mind the idea of a single payer system, and that is not what I have proposed or would support.
Iraq: Romney was asked at length about Iraq and was more critical of the Bush administration's handling of the war than I've typically seen him. He also stated that he's read several prominent books which are critical of both the war effort and the justifications used initially to sell the war.
I do believe that the conduct of the war following the collapse of Saddam Hussein suggested that there had not been sufficient planning, that there had not been sufficient preparation for what the rules of engagement would be once the government fell and it was left to Ambassador [Paul] Bremer to develop these policies without the benefit of a great deal of forethought and analysis and debate and consideration. And that led, you mentioned books, to a combination of "Assassin's Gate," "Cobra Two," "Looming Tower"... and others... it led to a number of errors on our part.
While he supports the President's decision to surge troops, he tones down expectations:
[M]y view is that approximately 30,000 troops brought in at one time would have a reasonable probability of bringing stability to Baghdad and al-Anbar. I can't say I'm highly confident in that result. I can say, as long as there is a reasonable probability of achieving stability through a central government in Iraq, that is a lower-risk option or outcome for us than having the country divide into three parts or more, or having the country fall into complete and utter chaos. . . The other options that are being discussed today are either dividing the country or walking away. Both of those have very substantial risks to our interests, which are severe and which we would not choose as long as there is a reasonable probability of an alternative strategy -- which is there is today. The alternative strategy we have today is one of providing security to the Iraqi people and stability to the government and that is what we're pursuing.
At what point would he consider bringing the troops home if the surge fails to contain the violence?
I've indicated precisely what I would do, which is as long as there is a reasonable probability of success, then we will pursue that because it's in our best interest. What I will do is identify what is in the national interest of the American people and get our troops home as fast as we possibly can. We don't want to be there one day longer than we have to be there. But at the same time, we don't want to precipitate a circumstance that would cause us to have more troops ultimately have to be involved, or massive loss of life at a cost to our interests, and to those of our friends and allies, that would be incalculable.
In the context of Iraq, he spoke about how he arrives at decisions, which, in my mind highlights his executive strengths and contrasts him starkly with a Bush Administration that has a reputation for insularity:
[Number one:] I begin by wanting to assemble a team of very smart people with different backgrounds and experience, who are aggressive proponents of their views. I like the debate, almost a case method, where people come in with different views and argue back and forth.

Number two: I like data. I don't want to sit in a room where people just talk about their opinions. I want to see data and analysis of that data which backs up opinions.

Number three: The process of having people debate, with data and analysis, allows all of us in the room to generally reach a consensus about the risks, the upsides, the downsides, the ways to alleviate risks, the opportunities we have, the full range of consideration. With receipt of that information, we can act. Clearly, the decision to deploy American military might and put our men and women at risk is a decision that can only be reached after a very extensive deliberative process.
Social Issues: Romney responded to several questions on his shift in social positions and on the Youtube video, which he admitted to watching. He criticized the video for misrepresenting his position on affirmative action and other issues and explained again his shift on abortion. As to what he hopes to see happen with abortion law:
[M]y hope is that the Supreme Court will give to the states over time or give to the states soon or give to the states their own ability to make their own decisions with regard to their own abortion law. . . . My view is not to impose a single federal rule on the entire nation -- a one-size-fits-all approach -- but instead allow states to make their own decisions in this regard.
He also spoke at length on gay rights and said that he had not discriminated in his appointments in Massachusetts, pointing out that he had even appointed gay judges. He declined, however, to speculate on whether homosexuality was a choice:
[I]n my administration, I didn't discriminate against someone on the basis of their being homosexual. And I think that it is appropriate for private citizens and government entities to take their personal care to ensure that we do not discriminate in housing or in employment against people who are gay. . . . I'm not proposing a law. I am not proposing a federal mandate, or I'm not proposing that there is an act of Congress of this nature. I'm saying that as a society, I think it is appropriate for us to avoid discrimination and denial of equality to people who make different choices and decisions including gay people. I do not support creating a special law or a special status. I've learned through my experience over the last decade that when you single out a particular population group for special status, it opens the door to a whole series of lawsuits, many of them frivolous and very burdensome to our employment community, and so I do not favor a specific law of that nature. . . . I am not a person who is anti-gay or anti-equal rights. I favor the treatment of all our citizens with respect and dignity. I do not favor creating a new legal special class for gay people. And I do not favor same-sex marriage, but as I've demonstrated through my own record, I have endeavored not to discriminate in hiring... one, in my administration, and second, in my appointment of judges.
CO2 Emissions and Global Warming: I hadn't heard Romney talk about global warming before, so I found this interesting:
I'm not a sufficient scientist to decide exactly how much human intervention or human emissions have caused global warming, but I believe they have contributed to it, and so there is a very good reason to help reduce global emission of carbon dioxide. A no-regrets policy allows us to also find ourselves using far less oil and buying less oil from people who are not our friends.
China: Romney didn't discuss China at length, but had a few thoughts he shared, including:
There is no reason to think of China as we did of the Soviet Union that wishes to bury us. China wants to see us be a successful thriving economy, and they're of course building their military might. They will continue to build their military strength; they want to protect the Straits of Hormuz and the Straits of Malacca to protect their oil flow. But obviously, any nation that has a military is a nation we're going to have to watch very carefully.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Damon Linker Revisited

The Salt Lake Tribune has a interesting article today that responds to the questions raised by Damon Linker about Mitt Romney's independence from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
Some call Romney's philosophical and policy changes a "conversion," while others dub them "flip-flops." By whatever name, one thing seems clear: Romney's motives are his own. Where once he was to the left of the LDS Church positions, now he is firmly to the right. Such independence fits well with church policy.
Though it does weigh in on what it deems "moral issues," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints long has claimed a position of strict political neutrality, repeating over the pulpit every year that it does not endorse candidates; allow its buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan purposes; or attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Gauging Mormon Support

Thursday, Utah Senator Bob Bennett became the first Latter-day Saint Senator to endorse Mitt Romney's bid for president. He's only the third Mormon Congressmen to do so, behind Representatives Buck McKeon and Mike Simpson. This is somewhat significant, because two other Latter-day Sains in Congress, Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon and Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona, have already come out in support of John McCain.

It's made me wonder how many of the Mormon Congressmen will end up endorsing Romney. I think it's a safe bet that the LDS Democrats, Senator Harry Reid and Representatives Jim Matheson, Eni Faleomaveaga, and Tom Udall won't (Rep. Mark Udall was also raised Mormon, but it isn't clear whether he self-identifies as LDS always anymore, regardless, he almost certainly won't support Romney either). What about the rest? Senator Mike Crapo's fellow Idahoan, Senator Larry Craig (who is not LDS), signed onto Romney's campaign with Senator Bennett Thursday. Can Crapo be far behind? What about Senator Orrin Hatch? Or Represntatives Herger, Doolittle, Istook, Bishop, or Cannon? What about prominent politicians like HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt or Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons?

I'm not sure what to make of the lag time on some of these endorsements. It's possible many of these politicians are holding out simply to avoid the appearance of "too much" Mormon support. At the end of the day, I think most of them will end up behind Romney, but given the number of prominent Latter-day Saints who have already endorsed McCain, it's not entirely certain who will and who won't (beyond Sen. Smith and Rep. Flake, Utah Governor Jon Hunstman Jr., Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, and wealthy homebuilding philanthropist Ira Fulton are among those endorsing McCain).

I see support among these well known Latter-day Saint politicians as a relevant issue for Romney because it could speak to what his support will be like among fellow members in both the primaries and, if he's nominated, in the general election. In states with significant Mormon populations (especially Arizona), this could be a decisive primary and general election issue.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

News Round Up

A round up of some recent articles:

Economic Speech
Club for Growth Responds to Romney’s Economic Speech (Club For Growth Release): “Governor Romney outlined today an economic platform that is, generally speaking, very pro-growth despite the surprising limit he suggests for tax-free savings,” Toomey said. “As the governor develops the specifics of his economic policies, we hope he will boldly build upon the limited government, free-market policies he discussed today.”

Mitt Changes Tax-Cut Tune (Boston Herald): "After refusing to endorse President Bush’s tax cuts when he was governor, Mitt Romney has now made them a central part of his presidential campaign, stirring accusations that he is changing his position to appeal to GOP primary voters."

CNBC - Kudlow & Company Interview: Here is the full text of Romney's pretty favorable CNBC interview with Larry Kudlow Wednesday, where he discussed his economic, social and foreign policy positions.

2008 GOP Field
'08 Slate Without Standout For GOP (Washington Times): "Many conservatives say they pick "none of the above" when faced with a choice of Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani as the 2008 Republican presidential nominee."

Romney Visits Iowa State lab, Endorses Energy Independence (Des Moines Regiser): Romney visited Iowa yesterday, touting energy independence and taking the time to stop by a University lab and assess the efforts of researchers at making plastic with vegetable oil rather than petroleum.

Romney Concedes Iraq War Poorly Managed (AP): "We were underplanned, underprepared, we were understaffed in terms of our military team," he said. "We have to a certain degree created the difficulty that we are in."

Social Issues
Romney Re-Affirms Abortion Opposition During Stop In South Carolina (AP): Romney spoke to crowds in South Carolina today, taking the opportunity to reaffirm his position on abortion. One Christian Conservative activist, Dick White is quoted as saying: "If he follows through with his conservative philosophies . . . . I don't think the issue is what church he belongs to. It's where he stands on conservative issues."

To Flip Is To Flop-- Or Not (Orlando Sentinel): The Sentinel's Kathleen Parker describes Romney's position shift on abortion and stem cell research: "All of which is to say that Romney did the nerd-wonk thing: He studied; he listened; he changed his mind. Unfortunately, the flip-flop factor has shifted focus from other issues of greater concern both to Romney and most Americans, including the war in Iraq and terrorism. You have to be not dead before you can enjoy the luxury of defining life."

Faith Could Be Hurdle in Romney's White House Bid (NPR): NPR explores how much of a hurdle Romney's religion will be among social conservatives and the public at large.

Endorsements and Support
Romney Announces New Support ( On Wednesday, Romney announced his Florida Steering Committee, including Toni Jennings, the former Leuteniant Governor to Jeb Bush. On Thursday, Romney announced the support of Alabama Representative Robert Aderholt, the 22nd Congressman to endorse his campaign. Today, he announced that economist John Cogan, a former economist in Reagan's administration, will serve as a Co-Chair of his Economic Advisory Council (joining Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiw).

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Romney on Kudlow & Company

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Romney and His Mormonism

The New York Times has a pretty balanced article exploring the prospect of Mitt Romney's faith becoming a campaign issue for him. It treads over a lot of familiar ground for anyone who has been watching Romney's campaign, but it's still worth a read. It gives us a peek into how Romney's campaign plans to handle the Mormon questions that will likely come up:
[Romney] said he was not concerned about the resistance in the polls. “If you did a poll and said: ‘Could a divorced actor be elected as president? Would you vote for a divorced actor as president?’ my guess is 70 percent would say no. But then they saw Ronald Reagan. They heard him. They heard his vision. They heard his experience. They said: ‘I like Ronald Reagan. I’m voting for him.’ ”

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

First Major Policy Speech

Mitt Romney gave what is being touted as his "first major policy speech" today at the Detriot Economic Club. Romney used his remarks to target fiscal conservatives, putting forth policy proposals that included making Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, reforming the tax code, vesting the president with a line-item veto, allowing people to save a certain amount tax free each year, "pruning" back Sarbanes-Oxley, national tort reform, and revisiting the CAFE fuel efficiency standards to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Many of these proposals (outside of visiting the CAFE standards) fall in line with President Bush's economic policy. Will Romney seek to differentiate himself from Bush at all on fiscal policy, or, given the economy's current strength in most areas, will he campaign on "staying the course" economically?

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News Round Up

A few of the headlines that caught my eye today:
  • Romney Heeds Call of Florida (St. Petersburg Times) - "No presidential contender from either party has responded more vigorously to the likelihood that Florida will be among the earliest presidential primary contests and could play a decisive role in choosing the presidential nominees. . . . 'By far and away, Romney is the most organized candidate on the ground in Florida, and the two frontrunners, Giuliani and McCain, would be wise to pay attention and address that accordingly. Otherwise, they're going to be surprised in the primary,' said Brett Doster, a top Republican strategist who is officially neutral in the race but widely seen as a Romney ally."
  • Mitt Romney Says He Opposes Abortion (Associated Press) - The AP covers familiar ground with an article detailing Romney's policy shift and his efforts to reassure social conservatives of his position on abortion.
  • Romney Seeks Hutchison's Support (Dallas Morning News) - "Mitt Romney met privately Monday in Dallas with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, part of an unannounced two-day Texas trip to line up donors and support from key leaders such as the state's senior senator." Hotline points out that Hutchison is viewed by some as a potential vice-presidential runningmate.
  • Romney's Not-So-Romantic Announcement (New York Times) - The Times is predicting that Mitt and Ann Romney are not in for a "particularly romantic Valentine’s Day" given that he plans on announcing the day before.
  • Romney's About Face On Campaign Funding (The Hill) - "Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who strongly criticized campaign-finance regulations in a private meeting with House conservatives last week, once touted dramatic restructuring measures such as taxing political contributions and placing spending limits on federal campaigns."
  • Capitol Hill Endorsements (Washington Post) - "Roughly two dozen GOP House members gathered at the Capitol Hill Club Tuesday to declare their support for Mitt Romney's bid for the 2008 Republican nomination. Rep. Jim McCrery (La.), the leader of the bunch, said the assembled group was just the start of Romney's inroads on Capitol Hill, noting that he has a list of more than 50 Members who he is actively working to recruit to the campaign of the former Massachusetts governor. 'There will be more joining this initial whip team as weeks go by,' McCrery predicted."

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Why DeMint endorses Romney

I know this is on Mitt TV already, but I thought it was good.


Circumstances surrounding Romney's conversion

Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO has a full article about Romney’s conversion to pro-life. Lopez describes the history at the time of his change of heart and the middle ground he sought out at the time, only to be opposed:

Cynics then and now would say the governor made a stand against cloning purely as an act of pandering: He judged that pro-life primary voters held the key to the White House, and so he took their side. But I never bought that explanation. If it were all about winning a future election, you’d think Romney would have gone all the way — and opposed the use of frozen embryos in fertility clinics in scientific research. Instead, it seemed to me, he actually believed what he was saying.

Lopez goes on to say that Romney’s stance on life issues was the result of meeting an uncompromising biotech industry and pro-choice regime. Significantly, she chides him for relying on the singular incident alone and not exploring the full picture of his conversion.

Now, with Lopez, a public supporter of Romney, much of her positive press should be taken with some skepticism (much like what is said by Romney supporters on this blog). However, she tells a compelling story of how Romney came to confront the issues. Indeed it makes Romney sound more like an “I didn’t leave the pro-choice movement. It left me,” moderate. This is a much more plausible, and probably truer, version of Romney. Essentially, Romney became pro-life because there was no logical end to the pro-choice movement.

I know that there is a lot of complaint about how far out people are declaring their candidacy, but for Romney it is a plus on this issue. He has time for conservatives to come to trust that his conversion is not a political ploy, but a heart-felt embrace of life issues. Whether they will is another question.

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Romney to Formally Announce Presidential Bid on February 13th

The Politico is reporting that Mitt Romney will formally announce his presidential bid at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan on February 13th. Romney then plans on traveling to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, over the next two days before returning to Massachusetts.

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Capitol Hill Press Conference

Roll Call is reporting that House Republicans that have endorsed Mitt Romney plan to hold a press conference today to announce new support. The new endorsements apparently will move Romney ahead of John McCain in publicly announced support from Congressional Representatives.

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