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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Blogger Michael said...

Romney's personal views have always been consistent. His political views shifted over time to be in line with his personal view.

I did notice in the clip that Romney did not want to be labeled as pro-choice, probably because he did not hold those views personally. Rather he said he would protect a woman's right to choose, and would not change the laws of the state. Despite his shift in political views, he held true to that promise.

What is clear from the ABC interview over the weekend, is that he believes states should choose on this issue. He is not going to mandate a national ban on abortion. He admitted that under his current view, Massachusets would be a pro-choice state.

I think it is actually funny that all these videos come out showing his debates, when Romney openly admits he had those positions in the past, but now they have changed (at least politically). It is nothing new...he is not trying to run from the comments, but has addressed them head on. I applaud him for that.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

My guess is that this video is disturbing for some because Romney ends up arguing somewhat passionately about his position. He also rejects the "pro-life" label at the end.

I'm not sure that Romney's been as consistent as you make him out to be in the past, but he's made a solid enough case on his views this past year to bring well-known right-to-lifers like James Bopp on board with his campaign.

My personal view is that we probably won't know how many social conservatives actually are convinced enough by Romney on this and other issues to vote for him until the primaries actually go down (I think this especially true on his Mormonism). Romney has done everything he can up to this point to put himself in a position to be competitive. To stay competitive, he just needs to keep at it this next year.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Rhapsidiomite said...

I'm convinced that Romney has always valued life, but that his stand on so-called "pro-life" and "pro-choice" issues have appeared shifty since he has never really adhered to one extreme political doctrine or the other. The terms, after all, as he himself pointed out, are highly polarized, and they don't really allow for the kind of doctrine that he might adhere to in the Mormon faith:

"Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth."

I'm going to guess, as Marc suggested, that Romney probably holds to the same belief. But, as he says, Roe vs. Wade has "cheapened the value of human life," and I think he accepts that the political way to deal with the abortion question might diverge from his personal beliefs.

That his views "have changed" is probably another way (his way) of saying America needs a new approach to the abortion problem. ("Innovation and transformation.") (Glad I could sneak that in.) In other words, because it's so politicized (partisan), the only way to tackle the problem is with absolutes, even if he may believe more along the lines of the Church, that there are rare exceptions.

And no, I didn't repeat myself to drive the point home. :)

10:30 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

I think it is difficult to tell whether Romney's personal views have been consistent, unless you know him personally. For those of us who don't, I think that Romney's views are best seen as political strategy. I would distinguish that from political expedience in that there is an underlying principle. Political expedience is a change for purely political reasons, while political strategy is about crafting a sustainable position in line with core principles. Political expedience lacks the foundation of core principles. I think that Romney’s political positions have shown an underlying core principle in favor of life, while being realistic about his ability to bring about change. From what I can tell, Romney’s position was this when he ran for Governor:

''I promised the people of Massachusetts that as governor I would not change the laws of the Commonwealth as they relate to abortion."

This may seem unsatisfying to pro-lifers, but it is a carefully crafted statement that satisfies pro-choicers but also helps to stop expansion of abortion in a state that would otherwise drift in that direction. Accordingly, Romney vetoed some bills that would have expanded abortion and similar programs. This was how Romney saw that he could do the most good for a state inherently opposed to restrictions on abortion.

Now as a presidential hopeful, Romney sees that the way to do the most good would be to espouse federalism. It is a strategic position that allows him to do the most good while satisfying conservatives, moderates, and even people in pro-choice states. It is based on a core principle, but crafted according to his ability to accomplish that goal. Much like he was able to craft a health care plan for Massachusetts, he has been ardent in stating that such a plan might not work nation wide. Similarly he was only able to take a defensive position in Massachusetts, but has different opportunities for a national constituency that is more open to change.

12:09 PM  

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