Mitt Romney was firm and direct with the abortion rights advocates sitting in his office nine years ago, assuring the group that if elected Massachusetts governor, he would protect the state’s abortion laws. Then, as the meeting drew to a close, the businessman offered an intriguing suggestion — that he would rise to national prominence in the Republican Party as a victor in a liberal state and could use his influence to soften the GOP’s hard-line opposition to abortion. He would be a “good voice in the party” for their cause, and his moderation on the issue would be “widely written about,” he said, according to detailed notes taken by an officer of the group, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.
“You need someone like me in Washington,” several participants recalled Romney saying that day in September 2002, an apparent reference to his future ambitions. Romney made similar assurances to activists for gay rights and the environment, according to people familiar with the discussions, both as a candidate for governor and then in the early days of his term.
Here's the Romney camp's somewhat feeble push-back:
Romney aides declined to comment Wednesday. Aide Eric Fehrnstrom referred The Washington Post to quotes he provided the Los Angeles Times four years ago in which he said that Romney had been true to his words and that activists’ recollections were colored by their political agendas. “People’s memories change with time, and change depending on which way the political winds are blowing,” Fehrnstrom said then.
Necessary caveat: The Post's sources are hard-left liberals who may be embellishing or inventing memories to harm Romney's presidential campaign. Then again, even if they're lying and the "detailed notes" are forged, does anyone doubt the plausibility of Romney saying those exact words nine years ago? I realize that Romney says he's undergone a serious change of heart on abortion, but as I've written over and over again, trust is the issue here. Many conservatives simply do not trust his instincts or the sincerity of his beliefs. That's why more than a few Righties snorted on Twitter today when Romney reportedly said, "I've been as consistent as human beings can be." Nobody -- nobody -- believes that, in any broad context. This GOP field sure is....something, isn't it? I'll leave you with Romney's USA Today Op/Ed on controlling spending and the national debt. It's not too bad -- hard to object to any of the specifics -- but his passage on entitlement reform is tepid:
...That achievement will be short-lived if we do not also ensure that both Medicare and Social Security are made sustainable for future generations. Reforms should not affect current seniors or those near retirement, and tax hikes should be off the table. However, the retirement age for younger workers should be increased slowly to keep up with increases in longevity. And Social Security benefits for higher income recipients should grow at a slower rate than for those with lower incomes.
Tomorrow's Medicare should give beneficiaries a generous defined contribution and allow them to choose between private plans and traditional Medicare. And lower-income future retirees should receive the most assistance. I believe that competition will improve Medicare and the coverage that seniors receive.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography