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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Book of Matthew: Who is Mitt Romney?

GOP candidate is a 'political chameleon'

Published: January 18, 2008
Section: Opinions

mittromney-opinions.jpgThe race for the White House is truly a race, and Mitt Romney is running so fast that he seems to have left a few things behind. Once a liberal Republican governor of Massachusetts, he has recently branded himself as the only “true conservative” in the GOP presidential race. This change of heart has been sudden, but it has won over many voters and made Romney a Republican frontrunner. Being a citizen of Massachusetts, I am familiar with this man’s shifting positions, and I feel that all voters, especially his supporters, should give him a second look.

Before running for president, Romney ran for two positions in Massachusetts. First, he failed to oust Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994, and then he defeated Shannon O’Brien, the Democratic nominee in the 2002 gubernatorial race. In the first campaign, Romney’s strategy was to take positions similar to that of his liberal opponent. He proposed an end to the military’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” supported civil unions, and called for more support of the gay community by the Republican Party. He also labeled himself as a strictly pro-choice candidate, and wanted abortion to be safe and legal. Finally, Romney declared himself a supporter of gun control legislation. This strategy worked well for a time, but in the end Kennedy won the election. So, eight years later Romney shifted his tactics slightly.

Between running for governor of Massachusetts and holding the office, Romney has changed most of his other views. He began to move away from the gay community that he had once supported, instead giving his support to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that he had once opposed. He also renounced his support of civil unions, which he had once tolerated, and became increasingly anti-gay marriage, calling for a state constitutional amendment to ban it just after it had been made legal by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Most interestingly, Romney became pro-life shortly into his term as governor, and after all his years of being pro-choice, he called for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The reasons for all of these changes are obvious. Romney has been eyeing the presidency for years, and has been considered a potential Republican candidate for the election of 2008 since the Republican National Convention of 2004 (to the dismay of many Massachusetts citizens who hoped that he would put his job of governor before his future ambitions). Since the gubernatorial election of 2002 proved to Romney that shifts in positions can yield results, he has continued to change his mind in order to follow the views that he feels will propel him to office. So far, he has finished second in two Republican primaries, and recently won in Michigan, which, unfortunately, means that this strategy is working.

Currently, Romney can be found campaigning in Republican primary states on the most conservative platform that he has ever adopted. He seems to be trying to emulate conservative idol Ronald Reagan as much as possible, and constantly voices his support of Reaganomics (failed policies that are, for some reason, still popular). Recently, Romney sealed his transformation to “true conservative” by joining the NRA, which is likely to mean the end of his support for gun control laws. Such action is now typical of Romney, and it reminds me of a comment Senator Ted Kennedy made in 1994, which accused Mitt Romney of being “multiple choice” instead of pro-choice. It does not seem like he has changed a bit, and I find it hard to believe that a man who has spent his career as a political chameleon could possibly lead this country.