Monday, July 25, 2005


Way too long of a sojourn out to a lake (Clarity 10.3, Algae 1.5, PH 7.1) in the middle of New Hampshire. The state is made entirely of rock (Granite, you know that, right?) with the inspiring -- and yet absurd given these hardy souls are fused to their local governments -- state motto Live Free or Die, which appears on EVERY New Hampshire license plate. On one occasion the state motto took on a passionate relevance when buzzing RR 11 at a frenetic clip trying to make the lobster pound by 6; pot-to-dock-to-plate-by-7:00 pm lobster can do that to a person.

On the political side, Manchester's New Hampshire Union Leader is similar to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, and not at all Registeresque. And let’s face it; editorial wisdom is evident when a newspaper in a small state with lots of old people acts like a newspaper in a small state with lots of old people.

The Union Leader did offer some section one coverage of the National Governors Association conference, and one AP story even included a too big head shot of our own Governor Vilsack. I assume the paper assumes that they expect to see a lot of him in New Hampshire (he’ll certainly want to keep up with Evan Bayh’s New Hampshire schedule) -- so the UL probably wanted to clue the political citizenry in on what the guy looks like. And it wasn't one of the better pics; they used an angled shot that showed off a little too much wattle and jowl. So sorry Gov.

The really interesting reading was the Boston Globe's coverage of Mitt Romney's purported dissembling on the abortion issue.

Clarity sought on Romney's abortion stance

Groups perceive muddled message

Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate say they are confused over Governor Mitt Romney's position on abortion and are seeking to understand the meaning of recent comments he has made, in light of the positions he outlined during the 2002 gubernatorial campaign.


When he ran for US Senate in liberal-leaning Massachusetts in 1994, Romney said abortion should be ''safe and legal." As a candidate for governor in 2002, he said he would keep the state's abortion rights laws intact and has since said that he kept that promise. But this year, as he began preparing a potential run for president, Romney said he is ''in a different place" than he was when he first ran for office in 1994 and has stressed that he is ''personally prolife."

Romney was asked repeatedly by the Globe last week to elaborate on his abortion stance, and he refused. ''I think I've said it a few hundred times through my campaign the same thing I'll say today, which is that I personally do not favor abortion. But as governor of Massachusetts, I will keep the laws as they exist," Romney said Wednesday.

Link to this Boston Globe Story

We now know he's a pro-life candidate, but in order to win in Massachusetts he needed to walk away from the pro-life position when he ran for the Senate in 1994 and for Governor in 2002. This pro-something flip-flopping is now coming back in an interesting way.

The pro-life types in Iowa are possibly suspect of Romney's rhetoric on the issue, while the Massachusetts “choice” types are attempting to pin him down on his willingness to sign the emergency contraception bill. The “choice” lobby is working it out so that Lieut. Gov. Healey, a “choice” Republican, signs the bill while Romney is on vacation -- at a lake in New Hampshire -- forcing Governor Romney to either let it slide with a Healey signature, or make it back to veto the bill for his new friends in Iowa.

This bit of Boston Theater has everything to do with Mitt Romney's future, but it's also a sucker punch to the Massachusetts GOP, as Massachusetts voters tend to like their Republicans fiscally conservative and socially oblivious. In going back and forth on the abortion question, Romney has created a very difficult situation for any GOP candidate trying to follow him into the Governor’s Office. How do you trust a Massachusetts Republican on this one?

And in some small way this flip flopping for votes speaks volumes about Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate. Didn’t Mehlman and company spend countless millions of dollars framing John Kerry as a flip-flopper?

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