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FOR ROMNEY, the switch in emphasis to economic issues not only allows him to sound more credible, but it makes it more difficult for his opponents to use the “flip-flop” charge against him, at least in the Republican primary. In a general election against a Democrat, any time he mentions creating jobs, he’ll be attacked for being a corporate takeover artist that laid off workers (a criticism that helped Ted Kennedy defeat him in his 1994 U.S. Senate race).
Republicans looking for an economic conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan will not find one in Romney. While Reagan believed that government should get out of the economy and allow the market to work on its own, Romney believes in public and private partnerships. Whereas Reagan didn’t see government as a solution to America’s problems, Romney believes that government can provide solutions, as long as it is competently managed enough.
In this sense, Romney’s view of the role of government may be closer to Herbert Hoover, a brilliant mining engineer and consultant who tried to apply his business skills to help manage the economy as president.
Romney’s new populist economic message that includes full-throated defense of government mandates for health care may not endear him to all conservatives, but at least his current posture is closer to his actual record as a moderate Republican governor from Massachusetts.
It took a year, but we may finally be seeing the real Romney.