At Thursday’s CNN Republican presidential debate, Mitt Romney won the immigration exchange with Newt Gingrich. But three specific instances again left those who may have been warming to Romney with concern that the former Massachusetts governor may implode against President Barack Obama in the fall. Romney’s camp, earlier in the day, sought to portray Gingrich as someone who was “unhinged” but there is a case to be made that Romney may pose even more of a risk for Republicans in a general election.
Clinton-style trickery with words
Gingrich noted that Romney said he was, in 1992, “donating to the Democrats for Congress and voted for Paul Tsongas in the Democratic primary” and, in 1994, “running against Teddy Kennedy, he said flatly, I don't want to go back to the Reagan-Bush era, I was an independent.”
“Just a short clarification,” Romney jumped in. “I've never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot.”
Basically, Romney was technically right because even though the Republicans had a primary in Massachusetts in 1992 (Pat Buchanan versus President George H.W. Bush), there obviously was not a Republican on the Democratic ballot -- that would be impossible -- that he cast.
This slight trickery in wordplay reinforced the notion that he is a typical politician, devoid of core beliefs, willing to say anything, anywhere in order to get elected. It is also the type of thing that drives people outside the beltway nuts and makes them wonder on what other issues has Romney been too clever by half.
Lack of outrage at RomneyCare
“First of all, it's not worth getting angry about,” Romney said, responding to Santorum’s obvious frustrations about RomneyCare.
Santorum said that if Romney were to face Obama and say that ObamaCare should be repealed, Obama would simply say to Romney, “wait a minute, Governor. You just said that top-down government-run medicine in Massachusetts works well.”
Santorum said that people in Massachusetts are not willing to pay a cheaper fine and get on health insurance instead of paying for more expensive health insurance, which resulted because of the Massachusetts mode.
Santorum added: “Folks, we can't give this issue away in this election. It is about fundamental freedom.”