This one is staggering. Mitt Romney's defenders have argued that we should overlook his reversals on numerous issues because he took his earlier positions as far back as 1994, and anybody could change in that time period. But over the weekend, Romney flip-flopped again on guns, only this time, he reversed a position he held less than two months ago. Conservatives who have been rallying around Romney out of hatred of John McCain really need to take a close look at this and reexamine whether Romney can be trusted.
The short version is that during the Dec. 16 edition of "Meet the Press," Romney told Tim Russert he would sign a renewed assault weapons ban if he were president and also claimed to have received the support of the NRA in his 2002 race for governor. Following the interview, it was noted that Romney received no such endorsement, and the Romney campaign had to do damage control by confessing that Romney misspoke. Over the weekend, Romney granted an interview to Instapundit's Glenn and Helen Reynolds, only this time he said he would veto any new gun legislation that came before him-a complete reversal from what he told Russert. Perhaps even more shocking, he repeated the myth that he had received the NRA endorsement when he ran for governor. It's one thing to misspeak once. But when a candidate errs on national television, gets called out on it, his campaign acknowledges error, and then he repeats the same erroneous information, it is very difficult to give that candidate the benefit of the doubt. Some would call him a liar, but I'll be kinder and say that he has displayed a remarkably loose grasp of the truth. I'd love to see those who have been so critical of McCain defend Romney on this one. Reynolds himself writes, "I'm beginning to question [Romney's] sincerity."
Just so you can judge for yourselves, I have included the primary source material below.
First, here is the relevant portion of the "Meet The Press" transcript from December:
GOV. ROMNEY: Just as the president said, he would have, he would have signed that bill if it came to his desk, and so would have I. And, and, and yet I also was pleased to have the support of the NRA when I ran for governor. I sought it, I seek it now. I'd love to have their support.
Here is the excerpt from the Glenn and Helen Reynolds Show, which I transcribed myself:
GOV. ROMNEY: Yeah, yeah, I don't support any new gun legislation. The effort for a new assault weapon ban with a ban on semi-automatic weapons is something I would oppose. There's no new legislation I'm aware of or have heard of that I would support with regards to guns. I think we have enough legislation. We have to enforce the laws as they exist. I was pleased that as I ran for governor, I received the support of the NRA and I hope to receive their support now.
UPDATE: Stephen Smith, Romney's director of online communications, writes, "In the 2002 race in Massachusetts, the NRA phone banked in support of Governor Romney's candidacy. While the NRA did not endorse a candidate in that race, Governor Romney was referring to this support in his interview over the weekend on 'The Glenn & Helen Show.'"
ME: I see this as utterly Clintonian. When a candidate says, in a political context, that he had the "support" of a group, most normal people take that to mean that organization endorsed him. Especially given that Romney got in trouble over making similar comments on national television, he should have been clear that he just meant phone banking. At best, his answer was misleading. But I'm sure the McCain haters out there will have a different take.
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