Thoroughly Moderate Mitt
Romney’s abortion comments show shift to middle, not a flip-flop
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
After a summer of ill-informed and ill-advised analyses of the female reproductive system, Republicans have had a lot of ground to cover on the campaign trail, and comments made by Mitt Romney on Tuesday may have helped patch up some of that damage.
The Republican candidate publicly announced he has no plans to make abortion legislation part of his agenda if he is elected president, an admittedly more moderate approach to the issue than he had taken earlier on the campaign trail.
But despite cries from pundits and the left, there is no valid point to prove that he has flip-flopped in his position. As he makes his move toward the middle, Romney now has the chance to turn “four more years” into four more weeks.
As expected, the Democratic Party was quick to claim Romney was playing games with important issues (which, by the way, isn’t that what politics is?). But the Republican nominee isn’t wavering on his stance for the sake of votes; he’s – albeit rather late in the campaign – making his post-nomination shift.
His “new” stance doesn’t change his personal beliefs at all. Since Tuesday’s comments, his campaign has stated he is anti-abortion and will be an anti-abortion president. But that doesn’t immediately require him to legislate on every statistic and Bible verse that pops into his head. Over the past few weeks, he’s been earning the nickname “Moderate Mitt,” but he’s never really been “Radical Romney.” His anti-abortion standpoint doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that his running mate Paul Ryan’s does, and Romney has been consistently adamant about being in support of abortion in cases of rape and life-threatening situations.
The Republican nominee has gotten a lot of flack from his party in the past for a reputation of being more moderate on important issues (does “Romneycare” come to mind?). Now that Romney is past braving the nomination battle, he no longer has to fight for the pleasure of his own party, most of who are going to vote for him whether they agree with him or not for the sole purpose of beating Obama. Today, it’s about winning over swing voters and even pulling in some indecisive Dems after his last debate performance.
The most recent Gallup tracking poll for likely voters has Romney in the lead 49 percent to Obama’s 47 percent, but what many find shocking is that it’s not just the stereotypical older white male making up those numbers. Romney has seen a significant gain in women voters in the last month. In September, only 42 percent viewed Romney favorably; today he is up to 48 percent while Obama has dropped from 60 percent to 51 percent.
These statistics all came out prior to Romney’s spoken decision to not make abortion a legislation issue, so it will be interesting to see how the numbers change in the next few days, but maybe the issue is being stretched out more than it shows. He’s made gains on taxes, health care and the role of the government, and even while he wavers a bit in foreign policy, he’s tied with the president on issues that thoroughly divided the country just a month ago.
The 2008 election was historic, but 2012 is one of the most interesting elections we’ve had in a while. On one side, you have President Obama, a liberal figure who has appeased the Republicans on certain issues and come off more moderate than Romney at most times; on the other side is former Governor Romney, a man who pretended he was radical for a while and is now shifting toward the middle.
For the president to take this back, his campaign is going to have to prove Romney is flopping on his values, but his comments on abortion definitely don’t provide the opportunity Obama is looking for.