Here are some selections drawn from recent newspaper endorsements backing Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential primary – along with some similar-sounding critiques drawn from an equal number of editorial writes backing his opponents. Can you tell which is which? Give it a shot! (Answer key below)
1) …for the past 12 months, Romney has been refashioning himself as something other than what his record suggests. He has made gestures toward economic and social radicalism, and eschewed the common sense of cooperative governing that made him a success in Massachusetts.
2) It has become difficult to define who Romney really is and what he believes. Is he feigning some positions now to win votes? How would he govern as the virulent anti-tax, anti-federal government candidate we see now or as the more reasoned leader he used to be?
Romney’s auto gaffes (there’s really no other honest way to describe them) are a discomforting window onto how those questions might be answered.
3) (Romney’s) stance against government interaction to revive the domestic automobile industry is disappointing. Also disappointing are inconsistencies in his message.
4) Romney was also dead wrong when he opposed government bailouts for the auto industry …in late 2008. And he has since adopted a recalcitrant and, at times, revisionist defense of his position in the face of overwhelming evidence that the bailouts he opposed were necessary.
5) What’s troubling is not so much that Romney’s plan was misguided, but that he now is unable to admit that and has decided to claim some credit for the auto turnaround. Last week, Romney (said) that he is sticking by his initial analysis.
It’s doublespeak, and a sign of questionable leadership qualities.
6) Although Romney begat health-care reform while governor of Massachusetts, he now disowns its national twin as illegitimate. One can only wish there were mandatory DNA testing for politicians. Anyway, a sensible stance on health care is only one of many moderate positions Romney once held and has since abandoned, leading many conservatives to wonder whether he will be true to them if elected president. It’s a pertinent question.
7) …on the campaign trail, Romney has distanced himself from his health reform success to woo votes from conservatives who despise the insurance mandate. He has couched some of that distancing in a distinction between reforms at the state level and the national level, but has also indulged some duplicity on that subject.
8) (O)n the campaign trail Romney manages to reinforce almost daily the devastating put-down delivered during the 2008 election cycle by then-rival Mike Huckabee, who famously said, “I want to be a president who reminds you of the guy you work with, not the guy who laid you off.” Romney did little to dispel this impression with his heartfelt rejoinder to a heckler in Iowa earlier this year: “Corporations are people, my friend,” or with his offer of a friendly $10,000 wager to settle a debating point with Perry.
9) Throughout the GOP campaign, Romney has been his own biggest impediment. He is reluctant to talk about his lucrative business career, and he has precious little gift for connecting with voters on a human level.
10) Romney does not excite voters and is a suspect choice…
12) Romney, having vastly outspent his rivals, managed to win six fewer votes in Iowa this time than he did four years ago. He was virtually tied by Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, gained less than a quarter of the vote, and yet declared “victory.”
13) Romney, who turns 65 next week, served only a single term as governor, and by the standards of most serious presidential contenders, his political resume is short: two statewide campaigns and an unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination four years ago. Perhaps that is why he sometimes appears so awkward in public, especially when talking about himself and, in particular, his personal wealth.
14) Job growth in Massachusetts… was slower than it was in all but three other states while Romney was governor.
Romney did not raise taxes as governor and, for a time, was able to balance a budget that had been badly out of whack, but he left office with the state facing a significant budget gap.
15) AFTER MONTHS of flirting with candidates who considered inexperience an asset, obstinance and vitriol a virtue and extremism, even flakiness a job requirement, Republican voters seem to be settling down. Increasingly, they are rallying around a grownup who has impressive experience as a chief executive, in and out of government, and a history of making things work rather than pursuing ideological fetishes. Yet nearly two-thirds of Republican primary voters still reject Mitt Romney…
1) Endorsement from Detroit Free Press on 2/23/12
2) Endorsement from Detroit Free Press on 2/23/12
3) Endorsement from Grand Rapids Press on 2/22/12
4) Endorsement from Detroit Free Press on 2/23/12
5) Endorsement from Detroit Free Press on 2/23/12
6) Non-endorsement from Valley News in New Hampshire on 12/18/11 (Huntsman endorsement)
7) Endorsement from Detroit Free Press on 2/23/12
8) Non-endorsement from Valley News in New Hampshire on 12/18/11 (Huntsman endorsement)
9) Endorsement from The Seattle Times on 3/1/12
10) Endorsement from The Seattle Times on 3/1/12
11) Non-endorsement from The Boston Globe on 1/6/12 (Huntsman endorsement)
12) Signed editorial from Joe McQuaid, Union-Leader (New Hampshire) publisher on 1/5/12 (Gingrich endorsement)
13) Endorsement from The Cleveland Plain Dealer on 3/3/12
14) Endorsement from Detroit Free Press on 2/23/12
15) Non-endorsement from The State (South Carolina) on 1/15/12 (Huntsman endorsement)