That Massachusetts primary was a landslide in both parties. Bush beat Pat Buchanan (who I served as research and issues director that year) 66 percent to 28 percent. Among Democrats, native son Tsongas took 66 percent to then-former California Gov. Jerry Brown's 15 percent and Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton's 11 percent.
Two years later, when he announced he would seek the Republican Senate nomination to challenge Ted Kennedy, Romney told the Boston Globe about his vote for Tsongas.
"Romney confirmed he voted for former U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas in the state's 1992 Democratic presidential primary, saying he did so both because Tsongas was from Massachusetts and because he favored his ideas over those of Bill Clinton," the Globe reported on Feb. 4, 1994. "He added he had been sure the GOP would renominate George Bush, for whom he voted in the fall election."
Romney's vote for Tsongas came up again in a profile the Globe published Aug. 7, 1994.
"Like his father, he wasn't a strong party man," the Globe said. "He had been a registered independent all his life. He still was, as he pondered the Kennedy challenge. He had even voted for Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Massachusetts Democratic presidential primary."
When the Los Angeles Times mentioned the Tsongas vote in a profile published Oct. 7, 1994, it did so in the context of Romney's wife pointing out that Romney had considered running for the Senate as an independent.
"When Romney decided to run, Republicans exchanged quizzical looks: 'We didn't know a single Republican when we jumped in in December,' his wife, Ann, says," the Times reported.
"As a registered independent, Romney had voted in the Democratic presidential primary in 1992 to support Paul E. Tsongas (though he backed George Bush in the general election, he says)," the Times reported. "He briefly considered running for the Senate seat as an independent, as well, his wife says, before rejecting the idea as impractical."
Thirteen years later, when Romney was seeking the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, he appeared on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos." Stephanopoulos asked him about the Tsongas vote.
Now, Romney said he did it because he wanted the Democrats to nominate the weakest candidate.
"When there was no real contest in the Republican primary, I'd vote in the Democrat primary, vote for the person who I thought would be the weakest opponent for Republican," Romney said.
"I'm a Republican and have been through my life," Romney said. "I was with Young Republicans when I was in college back at Stanford. But a registered independent, so I could vote in either primary."
And that is the core of his explanation.