Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Romney moves right

Mitt Romney has stirred some bipartisan excitement when considering 2008 presidential candidates. He's smart and interesting; he was a successful Republican governor of a heavily Democratic state (Massachusetts), showing he can get things done when bipartisanship is called for; and he took a solid stab at reforming his state's health-care system.

He's a Mormon, too, which is neither here nor there, but it would make him our first Mormon president.

However, the man who ran for governor as a moderate in 2002 has decided that he wants to stake out the right wing of the Republican primary race.

n an interview with The Examiner, Romney described himself as more conservative than Republican rivals McCain, R-Ariz., and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on a variety of issues. “We’re in a different place on immigration; we’re in a different place on campaign reform; we’re in a different place on same–sex marriage; we’re in a different place on the president’s policy on interrogation of detainees,” Romney said.

“I’m a conservative Republican, there’s no question about that,” he said. “I’m at a different place than the other two.”

Now, it's not too hard to be a Republican and be to the right of McCain and Giuliani. And placating the GOP's conservative base is often seen as a necessary part of winning the nomination.

And he's a bit hard to pigeonhole. I like some of his policies: Besides his health-care proposal he came up with some excellent education initiatives, spent a lot of time and energy on environmental issues (though he opposed the Cape Cod wind farm and favors drilling in ANWR) and has been maverick enough to support such things as affordable housing, the minimum wage and an assault-weapon ban.

But the picture that's emerging is not a candidate I could vote for.

He balanced his budget the same way Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty did -- on the backs of local governments -- which simply made the overall tax system more regressive.

And he's a fairly conventional social conservative: hardline pro-life (he supported the South Dakota bill that would have banned all abortions, with no exceptions for the rape, incest or the health of the mother). He opposes the "morning after" pill because, even though it's just high-dose contraceptives, it could conceivably prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. He opposes stem-cell research that uses cloning as a lab technique.

He wants to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage, and has already asked the Massachusetts state legislature to do the same thing to the state Constitution.

Beyond the merits (or lack thereof) of such positions, it signals a willingness to use the same old wedge issues as part of his run -- something I (and, I hope, most voters) are heartily sick of.

Bleh. I have little use for McCain, so that leaves Giuliani as the only current Republican candidate that could earn my vote. I'm still willing to give Chuck Hagel a listen, but in many ways he's even more conservative than Romney. He'd have to paint a pretty compelling picture to make me overlook that.

Update: Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi weighs in, with more details of the contradictions between Romney then and Romney now.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I tune in to Sean Hannity just to get some laughs and to hear the latest right-wing propaganda. Mitt Romney was doing an interview and the two sounded buddy-buddy. Between that interview and the details you point out, Romney sounds like the kind of Bush-era Republican we DON'T need. After the recent elections it's obvious that most Americans don't want the right-wing any more than they want the left wing.
Personally, I hope a moderate Republican wins in 2008. One party rule is no good,
- Caracarn

11/22/2006 12:59 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Yeah, I feel much the same way about one-party rule, which is why I'm actively looking for a Republican I can support. So far, though, it's not promising.

11/22/2006 1:50 PM  
Blogger Charlie said...

Senator Hagel is, in my view, the best candidate in the Republican field. He is a social conservative, but he also views federalism as important so most of those issues he believes should be left up to the states. He also formed a commission on health care earlier this year.

There is a Draft Hagel movement and the primary blog for it is http://hagel2008.blogspot.com

11/22/2006 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So far Giuliani is the only one who'd get my vote.

I want religion out of my politics, thank you.

11/22/2006 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Maxtrue said...

I bet Reagan would take McCain's position. Who here thinks there isn't going to be some serious stuff going down in the Middle East? McCain is the only one who advocates winning. I'm not talking about ending the civil war, I mean hitting the extremisit militias, putting more mucle on the borders and preparing for the coming storm. Unless the Democrats and Republicans decide to walk away. By the time 2008 roles up ALOT will have happened. I think Hillary and McCain know this. I think even Dean suspects this. Gays, tax breakes even immigration will not be the issue. Giuliani is in the running because of his toughness on terror. Center will decide the next election and Mitt is playing to his supposed base. Isolationist, tax cutting evangelicals?

You may well see centrist/liberal hawks on both sides in 2003 with an appeal to Independents for their support. The bases may stay home.

Remember, the vote was very even. DLCer and Blue Dogs saved the Democratic ass while stupidity and corruption defeated the Republicans.

The center decided the last election and Pelosi doesn't have a free pass. Don't worry, more global crap is coming our way and we shall see what candidate survives his rhetorical record from now until 2008.

11/23/2006 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a little early to line up the candidates and thier issue stands. We're in the season of "feelers" - Where all of the parties are hitting issues and stances to see what might take.

I wouldn't put much stock in any positions I hear yet. The real candidates have yet to surface as they wait to see which way the wind blows.

It'll be a long run to 2008 if we start all this now. Maybe this is just an excercise in speculation to you - in which case, have fun. But if not, you'll do nothing but drive yourself and your readers insane by trying to pick the horses in a race while the field is still open.

Was that enough mixed metaphors for you?



11/24/2006 9:45 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

MP: Yeah, this is all speculation at this point. It doesn't get really serious until the middle of next year.

The discussion serves a purpose, though. It helps inform people about the candidate landscape, and when you see which candidates survive the process and which don't, it's an interesting lesson in how presidents are chosen in this country.

Further, it's a way for me, a blogger from Minnesota, to influence that selection process, even though my state is pretty much irrelevant when it comes to the presidential primaries.

But it's important to keep in mind that many serious candidates won't come forward until much later in the cycle -- and a lot of them will not be household names.

11/24/2006 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not much chance of the republicans ever
choosing Rudy..If they do they will lose their Christian right base.
Of course then maybe Pat Buchanan
might give it another try.
That would surely give the Dems an excellant chance to move into the White
Oh, the many scenarios out there..I think I'll just wait another year and see what is happening.
MaMa J

11/25/2006 10:15 AM  

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