A number of Palin defenders have argued that Mitt Romney similarly cut and run from Massachusetts. While there is an important distinction between resigning office and declining to run for reelection — Romney served out the entire term to which he was elected — I basically agree with this criticism. Romney’s abandonment of Massachusetts during a critical juncture in fights over health care, the budget, and the definition of marriage was the single greatest factor that shifted me from a Romney-sympathetic commentator to a critic. (The spin of Romney’s flip-flops by some of his overzealous supporters played a role too, as did his health care plan.)
It would have admittedly been difficult for Romney to have run for president after being reelected as governor of Massachusetts. In fact, given the political climate in 2006, particularly in blue states, it would have been exceedingly difficult for Romney to have been reelected at all. And none of this has any bearing on the merits of Sarah Palin’s decision.
But watching Romney exit the field while so many of the issues he claimed to care about were in play, leaving the commonwealth to suffer one-party Democratic rule for the first time since the Dukakis years without any serious check or challenge, was too much to take. The man who rode back into the Bay State to save the GOP from a certain disaster at the hands of Jane Swift ended up merely delaying the inevitable for four years. Whatever his ambitions, that in my view represented a form of quitting too.
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