Byron York had an interesting report the other day on the process Mitt Romney went through before running for the Senate. He noted, for example, that the Massachusetts Republican traveled to Salt Lake City in 1993 in order to brief several leaders of his church about the policy positions he intended to take.
That in itself may prove controversial, and raise questions about Romney’s appreciation for the church-state line.
But before he did even that, Romney took a poll.
How Romney handled that dilemma is described in a new book, “Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics,” by Boston journalist Ronald Scott. A Mormon who admires Romney but has had his share of disagreements with him, Scott knew Romney from local church matters in the late 1980s.
Scott had worked for Time Inc., and in the fall of 1993, he says, Romney asked him for advice on how to handle various issues the media might pursue in a Senate campaign. Scott gave his advice in a couple of phone conversations and a memo. In the course of the conversations, Scott says, Romney outlined his views on the abortion problem.
According to Scott, Romney revealed that polling from Richard Wirthlin, Ronald Reagan’s former pollster whom Romney had hired for the ’94 campaign, showed it would be impossible for a pro-life candidate to win statewide office in Massachusetts. In light of that, Romney decided to run as a pro-choice candidate, pledging to support Roe v. Wade, while remaining personally pro-life. [emphasis added]
So, let me get this straight. Mitt Romney was pro-choice because a poll told him it was the easiest way to advance his political ambitions? And then he decided he wasn’t pro-choice anymore, when that was the easiest way to advance other political ambitions?
There’s going to be a point later this year when voters will be asked, “How can you trust Mitt Romney?” and the answer, even for Republicans, will be far from clear.