Republican Mitt Romney won 2012’s first presidential debate partly by changing to a more moderate position on several key issues.
In cold-weather climes, drivers undergo a ritual every spring when they pull off the snow tires and replace them with all-season tread. While snow tires provide solid traction during extreme weather conditions, they don’t work so well for the other seasons of the year.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has put away his winter tires after winning the Republican nomination and replaced them with tread that provides grip in more moderate conditions.
After campaigning on an extreme right-wing platform, Romney took a sharp left turn in his first debate with President Barack Obama. It served him well. By most accounts, Romney won Round 1. The next debate is Oct. 16 with a different moderator.
In the words of a former GOP president, Romney seems to have discovered a kinder and gentler form of conservatism. This, of course, is from political necessity. It would be difficult for Romney to woo enough moderate voters unless he changes course.
He has invested more than a year attacking the evils of financial regulations. Now, he supports many of them. He now embraces his landmark accomplishment in Massachusetts, a health care program that became the model for the Affordable Care Act, which he wants to repeal.
In the strangest flip-flop emerging from Wednesday’s debate, Romney denies offering a $5 trillion tax cut. This comes after he campaigned long and hard on a proposal that would cut $5 trillion in taxes.
“Was Romney for his tax plan before he was against it?” Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne asks.
“Exactly,” we would answer.
When he ran for governor of Massachusetts, Romney said he was a moderate. Once in office, he proved that stance. Throughout most of his candidacy for president, however, he has claimed to be a staunch conservative. On Wednesday, he became a moderate again.
If Obama gained any traction in the debate, it was when he pressed the real Mr. Romney to stand up and show himself. Who is he and what will he do if elected president?
The voters who will choose anyone but Obama are willing to gamble on the GOP’s man for all seasons. But undecided and moderate voters must be wondering exactly what they will receive if they mark “Romney” on the ballot Nov. 6.
Let’s hope they get the latest version, the version designed to work for a wider range of Americans in all seasons.