CRF Blog

Romney’s Struggle With Conservatives

by Bill Hayes

In Mitt Romney’s Struggle to Convince Conservatives, Newsweek’s Peter J. Boyer argues in the cover story that conservatives, despite their doubts, would love Mitt Romney as president.

Romney is no movement conservative, whatever those exuberant CPAC conventioneers in 2008 might have told him. What he has to sell to the right is the idea that he is a conservative by disposition, by sensibility. Before he had any discernible politics, he devoted himself to a faith that extols family values, and the line of work he chose, for all its failings, was a full-immersion experience in free enterprise. When he took up politics, he accommodated himself enough to the realities of Massachusetts to win election (see Scott Brown’s current campaign). But he makes a plausible case that he governed as conservatively as is possible in the Bay State. He tried, vainly, to finesse the abortion issue, declaring himself a defender of Roe v. Wade, but he also recanted his pro-choice stance convincingly enough (vetoing an embryonic-stem-cell bill) to earn the commendation of the leader of Massachusetts Citizens for Life. Sununu [Bush I’s chief of staff] makes the argument that Romney governed as conservatively in liberal Massachusetts as Reagan did in liberal California (where Reagan signed a law liberalizing abortion restrictions and presided over the doubling of the state budget). “In an almost paradoxical way, Reagan, pre-governor, was more conservative than when he was a governor, and Mitt Romney as a governor was more conservative than he campaigned,” Sununu says. [more]

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