Mitt Romney believes the Republican turnaround begins in Virginia
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was in Richmond, Friday night to help kickoff the Republican Party of Virginia’s convention and raise some cash for the state organization.
Romney is widely believed to be considering a run for President in 2012 and making a trip to Virginia, a battleground state, only helps to add fuel to that speculation. Romney said that 2012, is too far down the road to begin talk about candidates for president, but did say he will be back to Virginia, to help elect Republicans at all levels, any way he can.
As someone who has already run for president, and may be considering it again, Romney has a vested interest in the Republican party improving its prospects at the ballot box. He said that current Democratic policies are not the direction that he believes most Americans want to go down. Romney pointed to the governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia as opportunities for Republicans and the voting public to prove that.
Romney is the third potential Republican candidate for president in 2012 to visit the commonwealth after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
After the jump, I have an extended clip from Romney’s remarks including him being pressed a bit about his intentions for 2012.
**UPDATE** see the Democrat response to the Romney visit after the jump.
Meanwhile the Virginia Democrats responded with this statement on the Romney visit:
Mitt and Bob’s Political Makeover
Va. Dems: ‘As Romney learned, you can’t run from your record’
RICHMOND – As GOP nominee Bob McDonnell looks to rebrand himself this weekend in Richmond, he is bringing in the master of modern political makeovers, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
McDonnell has spent much of early 2009 running from his record of blocking progress and extreme partisanship in Richmond. Despite a history of standing with right-wing special interests and voting against bipartisan compromises like Mark Warner’s 2004 budget reform, McDonnell has banked his hopes for governor on throwing around words like “bipartisan” and “jobs” in TV ads.
Today, he brings in the master of the flip-flop, Romney, who drew notoriety during his 2008 presidential bid for his bold-faced switches on issues ranging from abortion to immigration. (See the Washington Post’s 2008 list of top 5 “Romney Flip-Flops” below)
Similarly, McDonnell, the two-time Legislator of the Year of the far-right Family Foundation, has now attempted to rebrand himself as a bipartisan-oriented leader focused on jobs.
The McDonnell makeover hit a series of snags, however, as McDonnell found himself falling back into his far right-wing ways. McDonnell said he would turn down $125 million in stimulus funds for Virginia’s unemployed, opposed President Obama’s honorary degree at Notre Dame, and stood up against Governor Kaine and Speaker Howell’s bipartisan smoking ban.
“As Mitt Romney learned, you can’t run from your record,” said Jared Leopold, Communications Director for the Democratic Party of Virginia. “Bob McDonnell can bring in all of the best political makeover artists, but Virginians know that the real Bob McDonnell has a long record of partisanship and blocking progress. Like Romney’s failed campaign, McDonnell’s 2009 effort has been consumed by wrestling with his own past.”
Top Romney Flip-Flops, From the Washington Post, 2/5/08,
1. Abortion. In October 2002, campaigning for governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney said he would “preserve and protect” a woman’s right to choose. He now describes himself as an abortion opponent.
2. Gay rights. In a 1994 letter to the Log Cabin Republicans, who advocate gay rights, he said he was in favor of “gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly” in the military. He now says it would be a mistake to interfere with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
3. Gun control. Campaigning for the Senate in 1994, he said he favored strong gun laws and did not “line up with the NRA.” He joined the National Rifle Association in 2006 while pondering a presidential run, and he praised the group for “doing good things” and “supporting the right to bear arms.”
4. Campaign finance. In 1994, he advocated a spending limit on congressional elections and the abolition of political action committees. In 2002, he supported public financing of campaigns from a 10 percent tax on private fundraising. This year, he said the McCain-Feingold law limiting campaign contributions is an attack on free speech.
5. Immigration. In a November 2005 interview with the Boston Globe, he described an immigration overhaul advanced by John McCain as “reasonable.” He now denounces it as an “amnesty plan.” In December 2006, he signed an agreement authorizing state troopers to round up illegal immigrants.