After weeks of attacks from social conservatives, former Gov. Mitt Romney and his press agents are doing their best to persuade conservatives that the Man from Massachusetts is one of them.
But unfortunately, Romney's own messages keep getting mixed up. For example, within the past week, the Romney campaign attempted to clarify -- if not solidify -- Romney's position on stem cell research. As Romney's bona fides as a dedicated convert to the pro-life positions continue to be called into question, the campaign and surrogates have ratcheted up the volume on messages that Romney really does believe in the sanctity of life in ways he did not a decade ago.
In a written statement mailed to reporters who had queried Romney's position on stem cell research, a Romney spokesman wrote:
"Governor Romney supports using adult stem cells and other alternative methods that do not destroy the embryo. Governor Romney supports stem cell research but opposes scientifically creating life 'cloning' for medical research."
But Romney's position today appears to overlook a major differentiator in the stem cell debate: the disposition of so-called "left over" embryos, those frozen in such medical facilities as fertility clinics.
"Look, the statement is fine, such as it is, but it doesn't address the real, tough question that pro-life candidates have to address," says one Washington, D.C. based pro-life advocate. "It's great that Romney supports the use of adult stem cells, but the rest of what his people are saying is confusing. And it appears to be deliberately confusing."
That's because two years ago, when Romney was supposedly sold on a firm pro-life position, he was advocating for the use of "leftover" embryos for destructive research.
In 2005, the Boston Globe reported: "Unlike some other social conservatives, including President Bush, Mr. Romney said he did not object to scientists' obtaining stem cells from fertility clinic embryos because those would probably be discarded anyway and because they were created with the intention of helping couples generate life."
At the same time as the Globe was covering Romney's position, National Review was calling it "a non-ideal (from the pro-life vantage point) but pragmatic compromise move."
"That's the problem some social conservatives have with Romney. He was willing to compromise on an issue that many of us would not compromise on," says a board member of the American Conservative Union. "If you are a Republican and a conservative, you've seen what happens when you support compromisers. I don't care how many people say they know Mitt Romney's heart. President Bush said he knew Putin's and look where that's gotten us."
On the Fox TV series, 24 filling the role of the President is akin to serving as Spinal Tap's drummer. This season's president is Wayne Palmer, brother of deceased President David Palmer. Conservatives of a certain stripe flock to the show for its gritty, tough on terror attitude, and some are wondering if this year's President Palmer isn't a fictionalized view of a future with Sen. Barack Hussein Obama in the Oval Office.
In the first four hours of the latest installment of the show, the younger Palmer, who is African American, has allowed terrorists to kill hundreds of Americans in smaller, but devastating terrorist attacks across the country for weeks, acted on faulty intelligence to cut a deal with the wrong terrorist, then cut a deal with yet another terrorist who may still have it out for America, almost sacrificed hero Jack Bauer at the hands of aforementioned terrorist baddy, and allowed a suitcase nuke to be detonated in downtown Los Angeles.
Some see comparisons between Obama's and the fictional Palmer's background: lack of experience, poor instincts, but great personal story, compelling appeal.
"It's just too convenient, and besides, Palmer's middle name isn't Hussein," says a Democratic staffer in the Senate, who laughed off the comparisons.
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