Mitt Romney's 2002 description of himself as a "progressive" has provided his rivals with more ammunition as they look to brand him a liberal flip-flopper.
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A nearly decade-old video clip now making the rounds online (and embedded below) isn't going to help Mitt Romney win over those skeptical Republicans who have been searching for months for a candidate (any candidate, really) who better appeals to their conservative views.
"I think people recognize that I'm not a partisan Republican, that I'm someone who is moderate, and my views are progressive," Romney tells reporters in the video clip from his 2002 gubernatorial campaign. The p-word may have appealed to Massachusetts voters back then, but it's unlikely to do any favors for the Republican's current campaign.
Not content to wait for the GOP rivals' AV teams to get down to work crafting attack ads, the Washington Post reached out to Romney's down-but-not-quite-out nemesis Rick Perry for a reaction. Perry spokesperson Liz Mair didn't hesitate:
It’s no surprise that Mitt Romney would have described himself as having progressive views: A quick look at his record shows that he pursued plenty of progressive policies as governor, including notably raising business taxes, the individual mandate to purchase health insurance and global warming policies. In fact, Mr. Romney and Speaker Gingrich share progressive policies on government mandated health insurance and climate change. Only Governor Perry, who is an outsider to Washington and the establishment, has the consistently conservative record on fiscal and social issues that GOP voters want.
Strong words from the Perry camp, with a swipe at Gingrich for good measure, too. The video naturally puts Romney in a tough place because it can be used by his rivals either to portray him as a closet liberal or as another piece of evidence in their flip-flopper case against him.
Slate's David Weigel reached out to the Romney camp for comment on the "progressive" video clip. Here's what they had to say (it appears as though they hadn't seen Team Perry's comments yet):
The very last thing the Democrats want to do is run against Mitt Romney. That is why they are focused on his campaign and not on the economy. The Democrats are continuing their campaign of deception in their strategy to "kill Romney." If anyone has a question of how Mitt Romney will govern as president, take a look at his record of creating jobs, cutting spending, and protecting the sanctity of life and traditional marriage. That was his record as Governor and that will be his record as president.
The Post also dug up another piece of evidence to suggest that Romney's current views don't necessarily line up with his past ones. The candidate had a heated exchange with a gay Vietnam veteran over gay rights earlier this week that was captured in a now-viral YouTube video. But 1994 Romney struck a decidedly different tone on the issue of LGBT rights. In a letter to Log Cabin Republicans back then, Romney had this to say about his views compared with those of then-Sen. Ted Kennedy, who he was running against at the time:
As a result of our discussions and other interactions with gay and lesbian voters across the state, I am more convinced than ever that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.
Here's the 2002 video: