Whether you are going to vote for him or not, Mitt Romney has kinda a nice but clueless rich guy image. Don’t let that fool you. Joan Vennochi reminds us of his history here in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts is where Romney first showed his appetite for running over any candidate who stands between him and political office. Here, it happened to be women.
When Romney decided to run against Ted Kennedy in 1994, Republican Janet Jeghelian, a former talk radio host, was in the race. Once Romney jumped in, he and the state GOP kept her off the primary ballot.
Jeghelian wasn’t a strong candidate, but she was a prescient one. After she was forced out, she predicted he would waffle on abortion rights. It took awhile, but he did.
Seven years later, Romney muscled out acting Governor Jane Swift, who had his pledge that he would not challenge her for the nomination. But fresh from running the winter Olympics, Romney jumped in, and without so much as a courtesy phone call, pushed out the politically weak Swift.
Realizing the delicacy of kicking aside the Bay State’s first female chief executive, Romney recruited another woman, Kerry Healey, to run as his lieutenant governor and vouch for his pro-choice credentials. Once elected, he relegated Healey to back channel roles, but she remains loyal and supports his presidential bid.
These tactics should be familiar to Rick Santorum and the other Republican candidates only there he did it with his super Pac and advertising.
Joan’s point is that all of this leads to a lack of trust which hurts him particularly among women. And while he has flip-flopped on a number of issues two matter to women. The first is his support of abortion rights during his Massachusetts Senate campaign. And he has done a major flop on Massachusetts health care reform.
As Shannon O’Brien, the Democrat he defeated in 2002, points out, “The choice issue is just one glaring reason why women can’t trust Mr. Romney. The broader, more profound issue is about what he will do to protect and preserve family health care across the country. Where he had such promise as governor, setting the stage for using Massachusetts as a national model, now he’s saying he didn’t mean it, never said it, doesn’t want it. That’s the biggest flip-flop-flip that women should be concerned about.’’
Massachusetts Democrats are gleefully reminding voters of Romney’s singular role in health care reform. He pushed for the individual mandate. He personally escorted the first woman who signed up for Romneycare. At his request, his official State House portrait, which hangs in the reception area of the governor’s office, includes the artist’s rendition of Romney’s wife, Ann, and a stack of papers representing the state’s health care law.
Will he have his portrait replaced next?
Men and women run against each other with regularity these days. Look at President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. The point is that Mitt doesn’t seem to care about the niceties. He could have run in a primary against both Swift and Jeghelian and maybe he would have won. Maybe it is just coincidence that the two candidates he ran over were women and we will never know whether he would have jumped in if they had been men. I think he just would have competed in the primary and blasted his opponent with negative advertising.
So all of you fellow Obama supporters take heed: this is not a nice guy and brace yourself for a negative campaign and he tries desperately to recapture the women’s vote he needs to win. Luckily, I don’t think he can flip again on either abortion or health care as that flip will cost him his Republican support.
We can only hope he stays perplexed.