Who is Mitt Romney? That is the question many have been asking since he ran in the 2008 primary. He is a CEO, governor, and now, candidate. In all of these roles he has varied differently. Some would even go as far as to call it erratic. That would be an inaccurate statement, because being erratic would imply that Romney has no goal or destination. That is not his problem. He has a goal: to be president. The problem is that to be president, Mitt Romney would present himself as anything. Depending on whom he is trying to please he presents himself as a liberal, moderate, or conservative. He has been in favor of certain positions when it is politically expedient. This is going further than trying to appeal to voters. Every politician paints themselves in a certain light to appeal to voters. Romney’s problem is that he casts aside any prior beliefs or stances in order to get new votes.
Romney bragged many times to other Republicans that he fought gay marriage during his tenure as governor. His own website says he thinks that marriage should be between a man and a woman. He even supports a constitutional amendment which would make this the law of the land. These statements were an attempt to siphon support from social conservatives like Pennsylvania’s own Rick Santorum. He is welcome to have his own beliefs, yet during his Massachusetts campaigns, he was quite the pro-gay candidate. In 1994 when he unsuccessfully ran against Ted Kennedy, Romney sang a different tune. Trying to court Massachusetts Log Cabin Republicans (Gay Republicans), Romney sent a flyer stating he will fight for making “equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.” In his successful 2002 campaign, a Romney flyer was passed around claiming again that Romney would fight for equal rights for gays. Currently the Romney campaign disavowed this flyer stating that it was done without his consent. This is despite the fact that the flyer read “paid for by the Romney for Governor Committee” at the bottom. Why the change? The answer is the political environment. Massachusetts is a notoriously liberal state, while the 2008 Republican Primaries were notably conservative. Romney simply changed his views to fit the environment.
Romney also set himself up as an NRA (National Rifle Association) advocate, claiming he was a very pro-gun governor and is an avid hunter. Both those statements are shaky. In 2004, he signed a permanent ban on assault rifles. This is a big no-no among NRA members who are against most gun control ban laws. Romney himself has called this a concession bill because it had some pro-gun measures in it. He still is against the use of assault weapons. His history of gun control does not stop him from blasting Obama. Despite his past with gun control, he accuses Obama of being “after your guns.” This was said by Romney to jumpy NRA members in order to get support. Obama has done little for the gun control cause. He is against gun bans except for assault rifles. This is the same position as Romney. Romney is trying to buddy up with the NRA despite them only giving him a B rating during his 2002 race. Romney is quite the convenient gun nut.
Romney does not like to talk about his tenure as governor too much. This is because it brings up his moderate or even liberal past. The infamous Massachusetts healthcare reform, passed under Romney, was virtually the same as Obama’s health care reform. It was successful in Massachusetts, but Romney backpeddled and tried to claim they are nothing alike. Whenever he tries to tout his conservative credentials, they turn out to be half-truths. He trumpeted that he balanced the budget during his tenure. That is true, but it is less impressive because Massachusetts has a provision to have a balanced budget every year. To his credit he did close some corporate tax loopholes that helped stimulate the state.
Alexander Hamilton once had to choose between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson to support as president. He was a Federalist and they were both Democratic-Republicans. He detested both men in various ways, yet in the end chose Jefferson. That is because he detested Jefferson’s politics, but had some respect for the man. Jefferson stood by his beliefs. Burr, on the other hand, was merely a political opportunist. He would say or do anything to be president. Hamilton would rather have a president with different morals than no morals at all.
I disagree with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson on many of his beliefs. He would pull the government out of just about anything if he could. Yet I would rather have him as president than Mitt Romney because he stands by his beliefs. Romney, on the other hand, chooses whatever is politically expedient. He has no core set of values for which he is running on. Whatever is popular at the time he would do without thinking of the consequences. In the end the question is: who is Mitt Romney? The answer is: whatever you want him to be.
Jack Barnett is a fourth-year student majoring in history and political science. He can be reached at JB723722@wcupa.edu.