For the most part, last night's debate was refreshing in the sense that the candidates were honest about their lack of conservatism. Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul affirmed their support for some aspect of earmarking (although some parsed words), Rick Santorum owned up to his support of No Child Left Behind, Ron Paul unabashedly enunciated his support for Iran's nuclear program, and Newt Gingrich also confirmed his support for Obama's federal intervention in education via the "Race to the Top" program.
Nevertheless, there was one man who refused to own up to his lack of conservatism; Mitt Romney. Romney consistently criticized Rick Santorum for his support for things that he undoubtedly would have voted for had he been in the Senate. Some of the items, including NCLB, Planned Parenthood, and bailouts, he did support even without a voting record in the Senate.
Let's face it; had Romney won the Massachusetts Senate seat in '94, he would have voted for earmarks, No Child Left Behind, every bailout under the sun, funding for Planned Parenthood, and yes – he would have supported Arlen Specter. After all, he ran to the left of Ted Kennedy in '94. We all know that Romney would have made Olympia Snowe look like Jim DeMint had he been more successful at electoral politics. So don't try to use your time out of Congress to your advantage, Mr. Romney. Own up to your liberalism.
The most egregious claim from Romney was his false declaration that he opposed raising the debt ceiling without a cut, cap, and balance provision. Romney asserted, "I said yes we should increase the debt ceiling in this last vote, but only if we have a cut, cap and balance provision put in place. Only in that case. And, therefore, I did not agree with the deal that was done in Washington. That was the wrong way to go."
This is simply not true.
While most other Republican leaders were weighing in on the debt ceiling deal throughout July, Romney remained silent in his Mittness Protection Program. Then, when it became abundantly clear that Boehner would cave on CCB and would agree to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for nebulous cuts (everything except for a few final details had already been worked out), Romney's campaign issued the following statement on July 26 praising Boehner for working out a deal that didn't raise taxes (a total non-sequitur to CCB).
“Gov. Romney thinks President Obama’s leadership has been an historic failure. He applauds Leader Boehner for standing firm against raising taxes when our nation can least afford them.”
Throughout the last week of July, conservatives were protesting Boehner's cave. I had written no less than 9 articles protesting the preliminary deal that eliminated CCB. Other conservatives weighed in pro and con. Romney remained silent. It wasn't until August 2, after the deal had already been signed into law, that Romney issued a statement opposing the deal. Yet, throughout the end of July, when it became clear that Boehner would jettison CCB from the final deal, Romney had no problems. As with every other liberal vote that Romney accuses his opponents of taking, there is no doubt how Romney would have voted had he been in the Senate last year.
Then again, he will always have the luxury to say whatever he wants. Indeed there are some perks to losing Senate races.
Cross-posted from The Madison Project